June 2004 
Volume 03, Issue 2 
Main Feature
Fab Division tackles ethics voluntarily

Fab Division tackles ethics voluntarilyWe are all significant. That's what strikes Travis Huber as most fascinating in his quest to learn more about workplace ethics.

"As employees, everything we do and every decision we make as individuals-large or small-impacts others and is significant," Huber said.

Huber, an industrial-methods analyst for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Auburn, Wash., argues that ethics is not a dry subject meant to collect dust on a bookshelf. It reflects who we really are, in commonality, on the most fundamental and personal level.

"The topic of ethics is universal; it binds people together," Huber said. "But to truly understand it, we must first answer the question 'what does ethics mean to me?'"

Through the Fabrication Division's Leadership Development Program, Huber recently facilitated a voluntary eight-week study about the heart of workplace ethics-what it means to each of us as individuals and what our actions mean to the world.

"The power of the study lies within the group setting and the dynamic way in which the participants interact with one another on a personal level," Huber said.

As a member, he proposed the topic to the group after being intrigued by how an individual's ethical behavior can influence an entire business environment, following recent corporate scandals. About 30 members took part in the study from across Fabrication Division sites in the Puget Sound region of Washington state, as well as Arnprior, Ontario, and Winnipeg, Manitoba. Participants included employees represented by the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, as well as nonunion employees.

"As leaders, we all need to understand what ethics means," Huber said. "Because as a company, we're evaluated on the collective decisions we make every day on and off the job."

Linda Howes, an accountant in Winnipeg, said the goal of the study is to get ethics "in the spotlight," so employees can explore their own viewpoints and discuss ethical situations informally. "The more emphasis and discussion on ethics within the company, the more likely it is that future ethical crises can be averted."

Carol Greetham, with Fabrication Finance in Auburn, Wash., said the interactions during the discussions have been eye-opening and have had an impact on how she views life through the "golden rule."

"The study has made me think about how we all must be personally responsible for our own actions," Greetham said. "At home or at work, ethics management needs to be 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

Huber said his parents, Bernie and Dorothy Huber, had the most influence on his ethical beliefs growing up. His father also works for the Fabrication Division, going on 47 years of service with the company. Today, his experience in the business world and observation of how ethical dilemmas have been handled in corporations of late, have keenly reinforced his perception that every company employee is significant. "Ethics is not about making the hard decision, but making the right decision," Huber said of the study.

-Kathleen Spicer

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