Friday, August 3, 2012

Ethical Behavior

By Rex Splitt, 2nd dan

“Sometimes you are too ethical.”

A public official once told me that in a meeting.  The story goes like this.

I had prepared a report on bids received from vendors for a piece of equipment.  Of all the bids received, only one local business had bid on the equipment.  The official asked me to change the numbers on the documents so the local vendor could be awarded the contract.  I politely told him that I could not, that it was not ethical to do that.  He replied, “Sometimes Rex, you are too ethical.”  I looked at him and replied, “Thank you.”

After the meeting, that conversation really bothered me for a while.  I knew I could not change the bids or documents.  Did I handle the situation properly?  What did others in the meeting think?  After thinking about it I decided there certainly were worse things to be accused of and I had maintained my ethical standards of conduct.  I did the right thing.

In today’s society we see a lot of unethical behavior through all classes of society, business, politics, academics, etc.  What is ethical behavior; what is the definition of ethical?  The dictionary defines ethical as:
1.    Pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.
2.    Being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct or practice, especially the standards of a profession.

Every culture has standards for right and wrong.   In the United States, we establish rules, regulations, and laws to govern our behavior.   This behavior is characterized by honesty and fairness in interpersonal, professional, and academic activities.  This means you respect the dignity, diversity, and rights of people.

It could also be defined as the standards that you hold for yourself in all aspects of your life, (doing the right thing).  What ever position you hold, whether in public or private, as well as what you do behind closed doors must be guided by the ethical standards you set.

We must always do the right thing.  Stick by your ethical standards, no matter what life
throws at you.

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