Human resource management deals with manpower planning and development related activities in an organization. Arguably it is that branch of management where ethics really matter, since it concerns human issues specially those of compensation, development, industrial relations and health and safety issues. There is however sufficient disagreement from various quarters.
There are different schools of thought that differ in their viewpoint on role of ethics or ethics in human resource development. One group of thought leaders believes that since in business, markets govern the organizational interests and these interests are met through people, the latter are therefore at the highest risk. They believe that markets claim profits in the name of stakeholders and unless we have protocols, standards and procedures the same will develop into a demon monopolizing markets and crushing human capital; HR ethics are become mandatory.
There is another group of ethicists inspired by neo-liberalism who believe that there are no business ethics apart from realization of higher profits through utilization of human resources. They argue that by utilizing human resources optimally, there is more value creation for the shareholders, organization and the society and since employees are part of the society or organization, they are indirectly benefited. Nevertheless ethics in human resource management has become a perennial debate of late!
Discussions in ethics in HRD stem from employee relationships and whether or not there can be a standard for the same. Employee rights and duties and freedom and discrimination at the workplace are issues discussed and covered by most texts on the topic. Some argue that there are certain things in employment relationship that are constant others disagree with the same. For example, right to privacy, right to be paid in accordance with the work (fair compensation) and right to privacy are some areas that cannot be compromised upon.