Ethics: Why it's important

Aug. 8, 2005
Ethics. It’s not something that most of think about every day, but it does affect us and our choices.

Ethics. It’s not something that most of think about every day, but it does affect us and our choices. Ethics in the business world and in our personal lives means making better choices by considering the rights and well-being of others that may be affected by our decisions.

Recent events involving WorldCom and Enron make a difference in how businesses and people are perceived. In some cases it can lead to changes in legislation regarding business practices. And while some businesses make headlines for negative business practices, others do have positive cultures that support “doing the right thing.”

So how does this apply to our lives and work? In Life Principles: Feeling Good By Doing Good, author Bruce Weinstein (www.theethicsguy) describes the five principles of ethics: Do no harm, make things better, respect others, be fair, and be loving.

Ethical issues aren’t always life and death decisions.

They include privacy, confidentiality, honesty, and fairness. The actions we should take encompass taking responsibility, meeting obligations, telling the truth, keeping promises, and avoiding harming people.

Fear, guilt, and our own self-interests can prevent us from doing the ethical thing. Fear can mean we’re afraid of jeopardizing a relationship or believe that harm will come to us. Guilt can be caused by psychological or spiritual conflicts. And our self-interests can blind us to the negative ramifications our actions can cause.

In What Should I Do? (Berkley Publishing, 2000) by Bruce Weinstein, he outlines the steps that one should take when making a decision. Gather facts. Identify values at stake.

Find the options open to you. Evaluate options and choose the best one. “Our actions determine what kind of person we are, and our character is revealed by what we choose to do,” Weinstein claims.

By making ethics a priority instead of getting caught up in the details of our hectic lives, we can lead a richer, more fulfilled life, one that will allow us to get the things we want: the right partner, a job we love, and a place to call home.

About the Author

Barb Zuehlke | Past Senior Editor | AMT

Alejandro A. Alvarez/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS