Tag Archives: Ethics

Business Ethics and Values Do Not Have Expiration Dates

Walk through the aisles of any grocery story or even convenience store, pick up any product and you will see an expiration date. These dates are for your consumer safety as well as to receive the most benefit from the nutrients within the food product.

Yet, recently, I have come to observe that many individuals in business who profess to be true professionals as well as those in government are demonstrating business ethics or values with expiration dates. Initially statements specific to their behaviors are made without a date. Then realizing that change is more difficult than originally expected or will take additional effort a date is added. If the added date is not made, a new date pops up.

The work ethics associated with these behaviors become a moving object. As new dates are added, the impact of the quality decreases to those who are on the receiving end of these expiration dated values.

For example, how many times have we heard that during the tenure of this leadership or management team it will be the most ethical in the organization’s history? Then as time moves forward, we hear, not from leadership, but outside sources about unethical behaviors. Then leadership makes excuses and sets a new expiration date.

Why business ethics or values now have expiration dates may be connected to the relativism that has affected the U.S. during the last several decades. Relativism has many definitions, but essentially means that everything is truth and is relative to the individual. In other words, values become moving targets or simply are now produced with expiration dates.

The recent meltdown of Wall street, the bailout of Wall Street, the ponzi schemes, the individuals who knowingly violate the law and believe that they are above it are all examples of values with expiration dates. Even before these incredible examples, many of us heard this expression, “Do as I say, not as I do.” This is a values statement with an expiration date.

So how do business leaders and true professionals avoid values with expiration dates? First, make sure that you have a values statement that has been clearly articulated within your organization. Everyone from the bottom up to the top down understands the specific acceptable behaviors and equally unacceptable behaviors.

Next, enforce the values statement. Recent surveys of college graduates and high school students show an increase in cheating and that cheating is acceptable. These surveys also reveal that these cheating young people believe that they have high ethics.

The old expression everyone does it is another justification of having a values statement with expiration dates. In other words it’s okay to cheat to get the best grade in school and when I leave school, I will no longer cheat. If you believe that, I have a bridge I would like to sell you.

Having a values statement may cost you some business in the short term. However, in the long term you will gain far more than any potential short term loses.

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Exercising Moral Integrity in Modern World

Recent Scandals In the wake of the Blagojevich scandal, others come to mind. The foibles of Former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer, former Florida Congr ssman Mark Foley and retiring Idaho Senator Larry Craig, to name a few. In the corporate area, Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme, caps off years of scandalous reports about Enron, Tyco International, and World Com. The moral faults of corporate leade s con inue to cost investors billions. Is there a modern day standard bearer to guide the common man?

Ancient Warrior Code
According to Shannon French, author, The Code of the Warrior: Exploring Warrior Values Past and Present, the essential element of a warrior’s code is to set definite limits on what warriors can and can not do. In this sense, warriors value honor, integrity, justice and a sense of what is right and wrong. To the ancient warrior, the discernment between right and wrong is like night and day. Clear, obvious, unquestionable. To them, there are no gray areas, no “that depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is “(Bill Clinton). To the warrior, if something is not right, he will not do it.

Ancient Warriors versus Corporate Warriors
In ancient times, one looked to the warrior for guidance to the light; to serve as defenders of moral integrity. Today, though, the warrior, or rather corporate warrior is perceived as mere profiteers. Neocons, using natural disasters, social unrest, changes in regimes and wars- have been used ‘as a natural ally’ of corporate interests. Naomi Klein, in her book, the Shock Doctrine, indicates that heads of,companies, representatives of municipalities stood in the rubble of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and thanked God for the solution to the problem of housing in New Orleans. Similarly, PW Singer, in his book, Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry writes that private corporations working for profit have the ability to sway the course of national and international conflict.

Warriors of Light
Paulo Coelho, in his book, Manual of the Warrior of Light made this observation: “Sometimes the warrior feels as if he were living two lives at once. In one o” them he is obliged to do all the things he does not want to do and fight for ideas in which he does not believe…Then all that is needed is a little daring, and his two lives become one.” p 181. Ancient warriors carried out actions that brought them closer to their higher ideal. Some political and corporate warriors, on the other hand have tended to capitalize on the weak. How might we attain warrior of light status?

Friends and Allies
First, we need to de-bunk the myth that warriors are ‘lone wolves.’ Throughout pop western culture, American icons: John Wayne, Rambo, Clint Eastwood, have presented the ideal warriors. These warriors exercise independence of mind, thought and action. Often, they are presented as friendless. A warrior of light, however, appears to revel in the company of friends, followers and allies. Twyan Towery, in his book The Wisdom of Wolves, argues that the ‘strength of the wolf is the pack, and the strength of the pack is the wolf.’ Coelho quotes John Donne and continues in his own words. “No man is an island. He can not fight alone; whatever his plan, he depends on other people. .. p 103.

When selecting alternative courses of action, the warrior, relies upon the wisdom of his closest friends. Prior to committing a whimsical act, how many have been spared public humiliation because a colleague quickly intervened?

Angels
Second, warriors of light recognize that they are fallible and need divine help. Theologians say there roughly 300 references to angels in the Bible. Coelho presents warriors of light as men who steadfastly rely upon angels, God and Jesus Christ.

“A warrior knows that an angel and a devil are both competing for his sword”hand. The devil says: ‘You will weaken. You will not know exactly when. You are afraid. ‘ the angel says: ‘You will weaken. You will not know exactly when. You are afraid.’ The warrior is surprised. Both angel and devil have said the same thing. Then the devil goes on: ‘Let me help you.’ And the angel says: ‘I will help you.’ At that moment, the warrior understands the difference. The words may be the same, but these two allies are completely different. And he chooses the angel’s hand.” p 123. How does the warrior of light know that the purpose for which he is fighting is just and pure? According to Coelho, ‘The warrior of light meditates. He sits in a quiet place in his tent and surrenders himself to the divine light…. A warrior of light knows that in the silence of his heart he will hear an order that will guide him.” p 55.

Open Heart
One would readily suspect that warriors, those who must exact judgment on a daily basis, are driven by hatred and unfettered greed. Instead, according to Coelho, “The warrior of light always keeps his heart free of any feelings of hatred. .. He accepts that his opponents are there to test his valor, his persistence, his ability t” make decisions. They force him to fight for his dreams. It is the experience of battle that strengthens the warrior of light.” p. 87 As keepers of the light, warriors are born with a spark of light. As each day passes, warriors evolve. Their spark flickers into a small and then larger flame through prayer, meditation and connection to the One. We turn to Coelho again for clarification, “Accumulating love brings luck, accumulating hatred brings calamity. Anyone who fails to recognize problems leaves the door open for tragedies to rush in.” p 53.

Conclusion
When the warrior reaches temporary defeat, he is comforted by this, “The warrior of light unwittingly takes a false step and plunges into the abyss. Ghosts frighten him and solitude torments him. His aim had been to fight the Good Fight, and he never imagined that this would happen to him, but it did. Shrouded in darkness, he makes contact with his master. ‘Master, I have fallen into the abyss,’ he says. ‘T”e waters are deep and dark.’ ‘Remember one thing, ‘ “eplies his master. ‘You do not drown simply by plunging in to the water, you only drown if you stay beneath the surface.’ And the warrior uses all his strength to escape from his predicament.” p 129. So too, there is hope for the likes of political and corporate warriors, Blagojevich and Madoff. Get up and aim to respect the true code of the warrior; value honor, integrity, justice and a sense of what is right and wrong.

Dr. Mead, PhD, MBA, MA http://www.ishareknowledge.com is a consultant specializing in human behavior, school and social psychology. She can be contacted at: tonya@ishareknowledge.com

What Are Business Ethics?

Naz Daud asked:

Business Ethics have only come to the fore recently. They state that there is more to business than just making a profit. The new focus is also on how the business treats the environment, reacts with the local community and works with its staff to build a responsible company that is both sustainable and adds value to the people that it interacts with.

“Greed is good” is no longer acceptable to most consumers. The consumer is now better educated with new means at his disposal. High speed internet access and forums like Ecademy now mean that good and bad news travels almost at the speed of thought. They are now demanding more from businesses even though their own ethics at times might be questionable!

Business ethics are now included in most business courses and the top management schools. The top graduates enter the corporate world ready to incorporate what they have learnt in the classroom.

Businesses need to have specific programmes in place to manage their staff and workplace in a responsible manner. They must give social welfare a high priority if they are to maintain their public image. They have to be seen to be recycling their waste and disposing of old equipment in an environmentally friendly way.

Businesses now have to be wary of using sweat shop labour in the third world especially if they treat them badly. Everybody realises that third world country wages are lower but they expect Western companies to treat their employees with some respect and dignity. Businesses that employ children are now frowned upon even though child labour is the norm in these countries.

Many “watch dogs” now exist that “police” most large companies and report any blatant abuse of ethics. Most of these have only been set up in the last twenty years. Most large media organisations also have special reporters whose sole purpose is to identify where breaches are taking place and publicise them.

The top brands in the world need to be extremely careful now. The value of a brand might have taken decades to build but can be destroyed in a matter of weeks. An example of this is when Gerald Ratner made a speech to the Institute of Directors and in humour referred to a cheap necklace that “everyone knows is crap”. These comments served to wipe out over a half a billion dollars of the companies value and played a major part in the downfall of a once thriving jewellery retailer in the United Kingdom.

There are now funds that specialise in only investing in ethical businesses. They refuse to invest in companies that produce weapons or manufacture cigarettes as an example. These funds have taken of spectacularly and have billions of dollars to invest in the stock markets. Before they invest in a business they send their fund managers in to investigate the business fully to see if they comply with their guidelines. If the company is not willing to answer all their questions fully then they might not get approved for investment.

When properly managed and executed the use of business ethics can actually serve to enhance the profitability of the company concerned. The business can proudly declare their values in brochures, newspapers, internet and television marketing campaigns. Reputation is the strongest asset that a company has and maintaining this and the value of their brands is essential to the long term future of the business.

Introduction To Business Ethics

Jonathon Hardcastle asked:

Is it possible for an individual with strong moral values to make ethically questionable decisions in a business setting? What affects a person’s inclination to make either ethical or unethical decisions in a business organization? Although the answers to that question are not entirely clear, there appear to be three general sets of factors that influence the standards of behavior in an organization; individual factors, social factors and opportunity.

Several individual factors influence the level of ethical behavior in an organization. An individual’s knowledge level regarding an issue can help to determine ethical behavior. A decision maker with a greater amount of knowledge regarding an object or situation may take steps to avoid ethical problems, whereas a less-informed person may unknowingly take action that leads to an ethical conflict. One’s moral values and central, value-related attitudes clearly influence his or her business behavior. Most people join organizations to accomplish personal goals. The types of personal goals an individual aspires to and the manner in which these goals are pursued have significant impact on that individual’s behavior in an organization.

A person’s behavior in the workplace is, to some degree, determined by cultural norms, and these social factors vary from one culture to another. For example, in some countries it is acceptable and ethical for customs agents to receive gratuities for performing ordinary, legal tasks that are a part of jobs, whereas in other countries these practices would be viewed as unethical and perhaps illegal. The actions and decisions of coworkers is another social factor believed to shape a person’s sense of business ethics. For example, if your coworkers make long-distance telephone calls on company time and at company expense, you might view that behavior as acceptable and ethical because everyone does it. Significant others are persons to whom someone is emotionally attached-spouses, friends, and relatives, for instance. Their moral values and attitudes can also affect an employee’s perception of what is ethical and unethical in the workplace.

Opportunity refers to the amount of freedom an organization gives an employee to behave ethically if he or she makes that choice. In some organizations, certain company policies and procedures reduce the opportunity to be unethical. For example, at some fast-food restaurants, one person takes your order and receives your payment and another person fills the order. This procedure reduces the opportunity to be unethical because the person handling the money is not dispensing the product, and the person giving out the product is not handling the money. The existence of an ethical code and the importance management places on this code are other determinants of opportunity. The degree of enforcement of company policies, procedures, and ethical codes is a major force affecting opportunity. When violations are dealt with consistently and firmly, the opportunity to be unethical is reduced.

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Teenagers and the Ethics of Music File Sharing

gavi eskin asked:

My sixteen year old daughter is a typical teenager – sometimes she’s rude and arrogant, but most times she’s just asleep or grooming herself- If only she worked at math like she works on her hair.  Like mostteens she loves music. I have tried to broaden her appreciation of different genres by submitting her to music she wouldn’t normally listen to. I’ve had some success with Billy holiday and Louis Armstrong and even some classics like the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd.

As well as musical appreciation I have also tried to give her an appreciation of ethical behaviour, and even though she exhibits none of her own, I think she gets the concept on the whole. Yet when it comesto downloading and file sharing, it all falls apart, after all ‘sharing is caring’ – what can you say to that? I tell her that she wouldn’t steal a CD from a friend. She tells me no but she would borrow one. I don’t reply because I can’t even remember if that’s legal or not. The way she sees it is that she’s simply borrowing music from other peoples files and not making a CD, and again I don’t know if that’s legal or not.

Now I’m trying to tell my kids to behave ethically but I cannot understand the technology and the legal implications. I’m beginning to appreciate the annoying piracy ads on DVD’s – at least you know where you stand. It’s hard to keep up with the changing technology and now it seems to be changing again. Now we have so called legal free download sites.

I know I’m stretching things when I ask my sixteen year old if she’s worried about artists maintaining their artistic integrity if they are being paid not for their work but instead for selling ad space on the internet. A little, she admits, well that’s something I think. But then she continues I don’t really care; I just want to relax and listen to some music. What about the message in the music? But I’ve already lost this one, and I don’t even understand the argument myself.

Not only that but I feel like such a hypocrite having enjoyed a few downloaded movies with the kids – it seemed too innocent at the time. OK I concede, let’s just try stick to the legal download sites, at least to avoid viruses.

Ethical Behavior in Future Leadership – Nu Leadership Series

Furqan Suleman asked:

Men cease to interest us when we find their limitations. The sin is limitations. As soon as you once come up to a man’s limitations, it is all over with him.

Emerson

Many people wonder about the trends of unethical conduct by today’s leaders. Obviously, some executives and government officials have not upheld the standards of their positions by not stopping the unethical behavior among their peers.

If an observer was to review past leaders’ conduct, one would be able to appreciate the ethics involved for 21st century organizations. There are still problems to solve and challenges to discover. As people continue to be hired or elected in order to gain power for the wrong reasons, society will continue to see unethical conduct. However, people must expect high standards from today’s leaders and never compromise their own principles in the process.

Organizations can be most effective when they build their organizations around shared values. However, leaders must buy-in and become value advocates. Leaders must model the way, and they must demand proper ethical behaviors from their peers. This can be clearly understood from a biblical context. 1 Corinthians 15:33 reads, “Don’t fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you.” People, especially leaders, need to pick their friends and associates carefully.

President Harry Truman said, “Men make history, and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still. Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better.” Therefore, it is important that leaders align themselves with the right people.

Just as God provided Adam the instructions to lead humanity, leaders must provide a blueprint for greater ethical conduct for others. Therefore, this responsibility is in the hands of today’s leaders’ hands.

References:

Ciulla, J.B. (1998). Ethics: The Heart of Leadership. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Heuser, B. (2005). The Ethics of Social Cohesion. Peabody Journal of Education. 80(4), pp.8-15.

Kern, C. (2003). Creating and Sustaining an Ethical Workplace Culture, Pepperdine University.

King, S. (2006). The Moral Manager. Public Integrity. 8(2), pp.113-133. © 2007 by Daryl D. Green

Daryl D. Green has published over 100 articles in the field of decision-making (personal and organizational), leadership, and organizational behavior. Mr. Green is also the author of four books, including More than a Conqueror: Achieving Personal Fulfillment in Government Service. Do you want to improve your life? Do you want to make better decisions? If you answer “yes,” then go to the ‘master decision-making’ website at http://www.darylgreen.org