What is Ethics and Why Should We Care?
An Invitation to Dialogue – June 10, 2019
We’re excited to roll out our first FOMB Ethics Advisor Blog in what we hope will become an interactive experience with new blog postings happening periodically – maybe even monthly if there is enough interest.
We hope you will send us questions on ethics issues that are important to you – practical and useful questions, comments or observations you would like me to react to. We will always maintain a positive and constructive focus, suggesting and finding solutions because, at the end of the day, ethics is about positive impact and solving difficult questions favorably.
The Essence of Ethics – Good Leadership and Tone at the Top
As a practitioner in the field ethics in the corporate, nonprofit and governmental sectors for over two decades, I have found that the role of leaders in setting the right tone on ethics within their organizations – whether they are businesses, nonprofits or government agencies – is quintessential to maintaining and promoting a good organizational culture where employees and other stakeholders have the opportunity to speak up about their concerns without fear of retaliation or retribution and those leaders listen and take constructive action to address those concerns.
Organizations that get this right have a motivated employee force, satisfied stakeholders like customers and clients and do well in terms of risk management and legal and regulatory compliance.
But – What is Ethics?
Many things have been said about ethics – from the most skeptical who say that ethics is a simple excuse or veneer for otherwise mediocre or bad behaviors to those who view ethics as almost a religion or from a religious standpoint– a matter of morality and deeply held beliefs.
Indeed, when people talk about “business ethics” they go even further and often say that it’s an oxymoron – how can a business be ethical? What a joke!
But is it? We often get caught up in words, stuck in semantics and meanings we have learned from our own experiences through our own particular lenses. But what does it mean to have ethics in everyday business, society and government?
I invite you to send me the first two or three words that come to mind when you hear the word “ethics” – send me your responses here and in my next blog I will discuss the results of this unscientific survey and provide a little more context and shape to what we think ethics means in general and specifically at the FOMB.
In future blogposts we will tee up additional questions on ethics including:
• Why is ethics important to organizations, to your organization where you work or study or participate?
• Why would it be important to have a code of conduct in your organization?
We will leave those questions there for now and I look forward to hearing your reactions to this blog’s question – what two to three words come to mind when you hear the word “ethics”?
Until the next one!