Being ethical in work and life – Part 5

Exploring a higher standard

in Part 4 of this series, we looked at where ethics, as we currently understand it, falls short of the mark, in terms of the extent of corruption, greed and abuse we witness in so many facets of society. We asked whether there might be a higher standard we could be looking to. This week, in the final part of this series, we look at what that higher standard could be.

What we need to be willing to see is, our choice to allow things we know are less than what we all truly deserve, actually has an impact on everyone around us.

We tend to think of ourselves as silos, i.e. we live in our little neck of the woods (or city/town) and others live in theirs, and what we do just stays with us, and vice versa. But our society is exactly that – a society – in other words, it is made up of each and every individual within it. The quality that we each bring to that society, and therefore to each other – including equally by what we say/do as by what we stay silent about and accept, is the quality of society that we all end up living in.

If we bring silence and allowing of lesser behaviour, then we are saying loud and clear to the rest of the people around us – that we do not actually care enough to put a stop to it. Ouch!

We would have to admit that – we are all very aware of the possibility of more. What we are not so good at, is committing to reflecting that ‘more’ to ourselves and all around us, in our day to day life. Continue reading “Being ethical in work and life – Part 5”

Being ethical in work and life – Part 4

Is there a higher standard? 

In Part 3 of this series, we started to realise the effect that our silence has on the society we share, and that, by staying silent to the things we know are wrong, we actually give permission to things in society that we know bring harm.

That brings us to reconsider what ethics actually is. Is it just doing the right thing and complying with the minimum requirements that satisfy the laws we have in place for our own safety, privacy, fair consumer trading etc? Or is there more to it?

Is it possible that ethics represents an absolute minimum standard, that as currently defined leaves gaps that allow continued harm and a lesser way of life?

What if it was possible that we could actually call for a much higher standard between us? Continue reading “Being ethical in work and life – Part 4”

Being ethical in work and life – Part 3

Is silence ethical? 

So far in this series, we have looked at ethics as meaning doing the right thing. However, we have also seen that there is a lot of ‘lesser’ or unethical behaviour which we see, in institutions across every sector of society, and that we allow to continue through our silence. Last week’s Part 2 was an exposing article that asked us to examine the way that, by staying silent, we actually give permission to things in society that bring some sort of harm to others – and through that to us all.

How does that tie into ethics? Well, if we accept that where we stay silent, we give permission to lesser (or unethical) behaviour to continue, then perhaps we would be willing to be honest enough to realise that – in doing so, we are actually part of the backing for that lesser behaviour to continue.

From this, it is easy to see that a choice to stay silent – when truth is in-fact what is called for – adds to and in fact fuels the very behaviour we do not like.

This bit may be challenging, but if we are super honest with ourselves, we may realise that when we are silent – we are actually part of the unethical behaviour. Not directly and actively, no. But most certainly in the permission we give it to continue. Continue reading “Being ethical in work and life – Part 3”

Being ethical in work and life – Part 2

The role of silence 

in Part 1 of this series, we looked at the ethical framework we all expect each other to abide by. We are satisfied that people are behaving well and fitting in with our societal norms and expectations when they do not lie, cheat, outwardly take advantage of others, etc etc.

At the same time, we do know that there is much activity in our shared spaces, institutions and interactions (large and small) that actually breaches what we would call ethical standards, but we generally are prepared to push this under the carpet, as long as it does not impact on what we consider to be our patch of turf.

Is that too harsh? If we are prepared to really look at it, there are undoubtedly larger, perhaps more widespread breaches of ethics that exist throughout many systems and the way people operate them, in all aspects of our society… Do we do anything about these when we know they fall short? Or are we just prepared to let them lie, unless and until they impact on us personally? Continue reading “Being ethical in work and life – Part 2”