Demonstrate Ethics

EthicsWith the Federal government being shut down and all, now might be a good time to discuss ethics. Regardless of the political views being espoused, one thing I am fairly confident in is that the longer the process drags on, the harder the impact will be on real, everyday people. Much harder than any consequence of the Affordable Care Act in action. Those that have pursued the shutdown as a moral protest of the implementation of ACA, express no similar moral sentiment for those that will be directly affected. In fact, there seems to be a ethical disconnect between a stance for a political opinion and the realities of economic disadvantage. I wonder what the principled reasoning is for punishing 800,000, in order to protest a bill that is designed to benefit tens of millions. To me, it makes as much sense as burning down your house because your mattress is lumpy.

Most official definitions view ethics as a “code of morality: a system of moral principles governing the appropriate conduct for a person or group.” After posing the question on Facebook, One of my friends described ethics as “an ambiguous definition of moral right and wrong and the actions taken to uphold the ambiguous morally right definition.” I thought her use of the word ambiguous was particularly interesting because I realized that defining ethics was very similar to defining emotion words such as love, hate, anger or sadness in that, they are much easier to understand in action than it is to pin down in words. The bottom line is we know it when we see it.

Our values speak volumes about who we are, what we believe in and what we stand for. This is equally true of organizations. Displaying ethics, which are rooted in sound moral beliefs, is what allows other to trust in you or your organization. Trust is the foundation of employee engagement and outstanding customer service. Trust is what people depend on when pursuing a common purpose. Pew researcher’s latest national poll shows that only 26% of Americans trust the government in Washington to do what is right at any time, on any subject. This was the prevailing feeling even before the current shutdown. Meanwhile, corporations have nothing to crow about either, with only 13 percent of Americans claiming trust in big business.

Political and business institutions have such a dominant role of the lives of ordinary folks yet, the majority of those folks do not have confidence that they are being governed or led in ways that reflect their own sense of right and wrong. The decisions that are made by these institutions are never contained in a vacuum or in isolation. They are far-reaching and expand exponentially. The ripple effects also impact those who have no direct connection to those institutions. For example, there are those who believe that having a healthcare system where significant numbers of people are uninsured is perfectly acceptable. In a system such as what we had just a week ago, the cost healthcare had become prohibitive, with healthcare providers passing along those costs to insurance companies and those that can pay. The unaccounted for cost of providing care to those without insurance has made it acceptable for insurance providers the provide less at a higher cost. Those with insurance, read their statements, shake their heads and thank God that they have insurance.

Adopting a policy of honesty and ethics in a business environment is not of unheard of, but it does take courage. If you want your company to build enduring relationships, develop trust and promote real change, then your ethics are not simply worn on your sleeve, they are the shirt that keeps you warm.

~ Richard


About Richard
I have spent my entire life learning to be a better communicator in in all facets of my life. I have learned as much from my failures as I have from success; laughing, crying and loving along the way. After earning a B.S. in Communications I decided to share what I have learned while continuing my own personal growth. I believe that the better we are to each other, the richer our lives will become.

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