As Albert Einstein said, “Relativity applies to physics, not ethics.” FRA is committed to doing world-class physics with ethical behavior and professional integrity. We do this by providing resources and supporting initiatives to highlight and strengthen ethical behavior.We all understand and appreciate the importance of ethical behavior, but too often we hear news stories about the bad apples. These people lose sight of their professional integrity and, should they also lose sight of the lab’s interests, they could make the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Our behavior and the choices we make shape our personal brand as well as the lab’s reputation and can lead either to career growth or demise.
FRA’s “Code of Business Ethics and Conduct” serves as a resource for our conduct and behaviors at work. You can find the code and related information online.
But what can you do personally to contribute to an ethical culture at the lab? Consider the following tips:
- Put the lab mission first. Ask yourself if a contemplated action supports and contributes to the mission. You’ll make fairer, more productive and less biased decisions using this as a touchstone.
- Stand behind the “Code of Business Ethics and Conduct.” Companies such as Enron had an extensive codes of ethics, which proved meaningless. Taken seriously, however, ethics codes can alert you to issues, provide guidance to improve choices and reduce potentially unethical behavior.
- Be a role model: If you set a positive example, colleagues will notice and take their cue from you. Workplace ethics are strengthened with good role models. After all, “character is much easier kept than recovered.”
- Foster trust and transparency. Keep your team members informed about the lab and work groups. When more information flows up and down, everyone understands the organization better and makes well-informed decisions.
- Don’t feel that you are alone! Ethics issues can be complex and need consideration of the full context and circumstances. You should not hesitate to contact a supervisor, manager and/or the Office of General Counsel if you have a question or concern.
These resources and tips are meant to provide support for all who work at the lab and to foster a culture of personal integrity and ethical behavior. Everyone’s diligence and commitment to ethical behavior is integral not only to our professional selves, but also to the lab’s success.
Po Collins is Fermilab’s new acquisition strategy and assurance manager in the Procurement Department. She is a certified professional contracts manager (CPCM) and a certified purchasing manager (CPM).
Beth Fancsali is Fermilab’s deputy general counsel and a certified compliance and ethics professional (CCEP).