We need to be ethical now more than ever

An investor told a start-up founder he was reviewing his investment and might not provide further funding next year.  However, the investor also insisted that the founder hired extra staff now to boost operations and to lie about the future of the company.  The founder refused, said he could not in good conscience, hire staff now, knowing that in a few months, they would be out of a job if no funding comes in since the investor refused to commit.

Ethics are moral principles that govern a person’s behavior and the conducting of an activity, and they affect how people make decisions and lead their lives.  Ethics is concerned with what is good for individuals and society and is also described as moral philosophy.  

Although ethics may vary from person to person, religion to religion, and culture to culture, however the foundation of ethics stem from universal values such as human rights, freedom of speech, transparency, fairness and justice.  Notwithstanding the existence and influence of totalitarian regimes, those of us that live in a democratic society have the freedom to determine how we think and act.  

In general, we see ethical persons as morally good, virtuous, and holding themselves to high moral standards, while we view ethically-challenged persons as morally bad, wicked, sinful, or even criminal.

Whether on a personal level or making higher-level decisions on behalf of a company and country, putting ethics at the center is important.  Being ethical can have real and tangible benefits for all.  Having ethics contribute to a healthier, happier, and more prosperous world for all.

Being ethical promotes the well-being of everyone involved. Whether we are talking about individuals, communities or entire societies, ethical behavior is essential for ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and with respect. When we act ethically, we are showing that we value the needs and interests of others, and are willing to put their needs ahead of our own when it is necessary to do so.

Being ethical helps to create a climate of trust and goodwill. When we act ethically, we demonstrate that we are reliable, trustworthy, and deserving of respect. This, in turn, encourages others to be more open and honest with us, and to trust us to act in their best interests. By fostering this climate of trust and goodwill, we are able to build stronger and more meaningful relationships with those around us, and to create a sense of shared purpose and common goals.

Being ethical also has more far-reaching effects on society as a whole. When we act ethically, we help to create a more just and equitable world, one in which everyone has access to the resources and opportunities they need to thrive. This, in turn, leads to greater social stability, increased economic growth, and a strong sense of civic engagement and participation.

More importantly, being ethical is good because it contributes to our own personal growth and development as human beings. When we act ethically, we are demonstrating our commitment to living a life of integrity and moral clarity, which will help us to develop our own character and moral compass, and to become the best versions of ourselves that we can be.

As the rising consumer-based society becomes more aware of the environment, social causes and corporate responsibility, the way companies and individuals engage in business activities come into scrutiny.  Exercising ethical behavior in business.  Companies now have to prioritize business ethics to ensure a certain basic level of trust exists with consumers. 

In fact, ethical business behavior is vital because it is a competitive advantage, helps build trust and credibility with all stakeholders, promotes long-term sustainability and profitability, prevents reputational damage, legal problems and loss of business in a crisis, and impresses potential and existing customers.  By being ethical can also have a big impact on how staff feel about the company and the ability to recruit top talent.

Of course, being ethical is not always easy, whether for the individual, a company or country.  There are often difficult choices to be made, and we may find ourselves having to weigh competing interests and priorities in order to determine the right course of action.  One reason being ethical is hard is because we are going against our nature and base instincts. 

Be that as it may, in the end, being ethical is about more than just doing the right thing. It is about creating a better world for ourselves, for others, and for our descendants. A world in which everyone is valued, respected, and empowered to live their best lives. By choosing to act ethically, we are contributing to this vision of a better world, and helping to create a future that is brighter, more prosperous and more just for all. 

Photo credit: iStock/ Jorm Sangsorn

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