A code of conduct for business ethics

Via ethics {for the real world}, I came across this post where William Baker looks back at his experience writing on business ethics for 18 months, and summarizes what he learnt in a list of 11 straightforward words of wisdom, which I reproduce as-is.

• Profit never outweighs wrong.
• The solution to a tricky ethical dilemma is often to just say “no.”
• The best way to deal with a bad idea it to come up with a better one.
• If your gut tells you something is wrong, it probably is. Listen to your instincts.
• There are some work environments that you can’t fix, so dust off your resume.
• You can’t blame anyone else if you get caught up in ethically questionable behavior. There are no victims when “no” is available.
• Tolerating poor ethical behavior is just as bad as doing it yourself.
• The ethical character of an organization is dictated from the top down. Establish an environment where employees know that cutting corners will not be tolerated, and they won’t.
• Your own ethical character is tied in with the companies you do business with. Not all clients are good clients.
• You are a citizen of humanity. Selfish goals cannot outweigh the greater good.
• Writing down a code of conduct is a good thing. Establishing it by example is even better.

The second one sounds very true to me. What makes decision making difficult is usually not figuring out the right decision path, but rather getting ready to face the consequences.


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