It’s the next step that counts most

By Steven Mintz via southwerk.com   Article

The Ethics Sage Explains Ethical Behavior

“Have you ever taken something from your employer’s workplace thinking nothing was wrong with ‘borrowing’ office supplies for your home or using company software on your home computer? Surveys consistently show that about 20% of workers take something from their employer that doesn’t belong to them and use it for personal purposes. Well, not only are these people engaging in ‘asset misappropriation’ but they become untrustworthy employees.

So, where do we draw the line between a minor offense that may be excusable and one much more significant that warrants a strong response from management? Well, folks, it doesn’t work that way. There is no materiality test on what is right and what is wrong. Taking something that belongs to your employer is no different than taking something from your neighbor’s house without their permission. Would you go to your neighbor’s medicine chest and take some pharmaceutical item? Of course not so why do the same where your employer is concerned? …

Some ethical decision-making rules are:

  1. Ethics are not relative to the situation; they are based on long-standing norms of society. Ethics/ethical behavior is based on certain immutable traits of character (i.e. virtues) such as honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, respect, responsibility.
  2. The ends do not justify the means. The way in which you get to your goal is just as important as getting there. If not, you might rationalize an unethical action by saying it accomplishes your goal. …

What if you make a mistake; do something you later regret; and want to acknowledge your mistake? Here is my advice in that regard.

  1. Admit your mistake in no uncertain terms; don’t rationalize your misbehavior.
  2. Seem genuinely remorseful for your actions; you’re not admitting it because you got caught.
  3. Promise never to do it again; make amends to those harmed by your actions. …

We all do things that we regret later on. It’s how we handle the next step that counts most. The problem in business is many try to cover up their actions and their misdeed becomes much worse. One lie begets another until they are sliding down the proverbial ‘ethical slippery slope’ and there is no way to reverse course and seek the moral high ground. …

… under pressure a person’s true character is revealed. You can’t always control the situation you find yourself in, but you can control how you react to it.”

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