403: Ethics and Employers

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Full episode script

In a 2016 Harvard Business Review article, Former Federal Prosecutor Serina Vash was quoted as saying:
“When I first began prosecuting corruption, I expected to walk into rooms and find the vilest people. I was shocked to find ordinarily good people I could well have had coffee with that morning. And they were still good people who’d made terrible choices.”

In 2012, the Guardian reported on a business ethics survey that helped shed some additional light on what kind of ethical pressures British workers were feeling. Quote:
Although the proportion of British full-time workers who say they have felt pressure to compromise their organisation’s ethical standards remains similar to 2008 (9% and 11% respectively), as does the prevalence of an unethical culture (18%), British employees seem to be significantly more likely to experience certain types of pressure to behave unethically than in previous years. The most common of these include meeting unrealistic business objectives or targets (19%) and being asked to take short cuts (14%). Wanting to help their organisation survive was mentioned for the first time as a source of pressure (7%).

In the 2016 Harvard Business Review article, the authors outlined that:
The most recent National Business Ethics Survey indicates progress as leaders make concerted efforts to pay holistic attention to their organization’s systems. But despite progress, 41% of workers reported seeing ethical misconduct in the previous 12 months, and 10% felt organizational pressure to compromise ethical standards.

The short version is – compromising ethics is a question that more people face than many realize. And when faced with pressures like unreasonable and pressuring goals, environments that provoke feelings of unfairness, and places where unethical behavior doesn’t get punished, a surprising number of people will cross the line to unethical behavior.

But – not everyone. And not in every situation. As the PRSSA puts it for young professionals:
Whether you’ve left your job or worked things out with your boss and clarified the line you don’t want to cross, you shouldn’t have a single regret. Remind yourself that you’re doing what’s best for you and the organization. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Not that breaking the Code of Ethics is going to literally kill you, but turning away and saying no will definitely make you stronger.

I’m curious what you think. Find the discussion under musetopics on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.