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Laws and ethics?. who?s kidding who? - ethics


Years ago I read an condition by a distinguished psychologist where he wrote his studies found one percent of all human beings would never lie, cheat or steal. One percent would constantly lie, cheat or steal and given the right set of circumstances, the rest of us would liable lie, cheat and/or steal.

I bring up this to highlight the fact that, if we can buyoff on this one belief - sobering even if it may be - we have then, a level from which to begin to at least try to appreciate the belittlement of ethics that lead to outcomes like Enron and WorldCom.

Most consider morality walks hand-in-hand with unquestioned ethics. A quick look-up in a thesaurus for Morality reveals words like, ethical, good, right, honest, decent, proper, honorable, just, honorable and so on. All good words, no doubt. Words too that explain what most of us - plus Enron Exec's - see in ourselves, Morally Upstanding.

Nevertheless, there is no deficiency of those who climb high upon their perch in an challenge to [dare I say] aloofness themselves from the great grimy by proclaiming their impervious binder to honesty and ethics all the while engaging in tricks to the contrary. Foyer walls of most companies downright ooze words of goodwill and honesty - there only for others to see, but in practice, never to be followed.

To be fair, the great dirty are not untouchable from corrupt behaviors or from a reluctance to take ownership for dealings deemed untoward. Even if it's a bit as down-to-earth as misusing the Internet or pinching agency materials from the band stockroom.

The fact is, the Enrons and Worldcoms have not cornered the marketplace on bad behavior. Like it or not, moral degradation is general in today's society.

In an crack to enlighten us on the realities of true ethical behavior, USA Supreme Court Evenhandedness Potter said, [Ethics] "?is deliberate the discrepancy connecting what you have a legal right to do, and, what is the right thing to do".

Omniscient words to say the least! Words that in assumption make a whole lot of sense. In practice, however, one may point out to his Honor, when he is seated on the Supreme Court bench and asked to give a ruling anything, his moral and ethical position, is and will all the time be, compromised by one dynamic - in the end, what is LEGAL? what is the LAW?

Climb any base he wants, in practice, his allegiance to ethics is only words, like so many words used to make up so many sycophantic Corporate Mission Statements that run juxtaposed to routine.

The Judge in this case, ought to not be criticized for calculating the basics of true morality / ethics or for advocating the reimbursement therein. Neither ought to he be acceptable to stand apart from anybody when clearly, in reality, he too is handcuffed by the very belief that challenges the rest of us - the thing that governs the outcome of most every ethical affair conclusion - IS IT LEGAL? The conclusion to lay-off 1-100-1,000 or more employees; we can do it - but is it legal? The certitude to deny commissions, payables or taxes in order to climate corporate economically challenging times - Q: What are the legal ramifications?

The ethical dilemma a propos whether to cut back on contracted military to advance the foot line and assuage the shareholders - Ethics be damned - Q: What's our legal position?

It's not a appealing world and it serves no aim in kidding ourselves by attempting to extirpate our own involvement by blaming the Business-Barons from the likes of WorldCom. Let's agree, when faced with most ethical dilemmas, we all hide [if we can] after the skirt of the lady who holds the scales of justice.


The cast doubt on still remains, however, how do the Enrons and WorldComs get so out-of-hand?

The fulfil is not all that mysterious, chiefly if you buy-off on what was in print before - . . . given the right set of circumstances, near all of us [from time-to-time] will take the wrong path.

It's myopic to deem high-level executives get out of bed each break of day idea about how they can con the world, take unfair improvement or act unethically. Just the opposite! That's not to say, however, just like in Supreme Court Evenhandedness Potter's case, there are state of affairs afar their be in command of that may explicitly govern decisions, which may challenge their inborn moral assurance to ethics.

For example; who among us cannot think of a boss we once had [have] who said to us a bit like, "I don't want to hear how you're NOT going to attain what I asked and the circle EXPECTS?. I only want to see RESULTS!"

In many cases like this and in practice, the assessment we are left to make is, is our ethical attitude more critical than custody our job and putting food on the table for our family? It's a tough world out there for those exclusive of a good job. So suck it up soldier! You're only doing what you've been planned to do! It's not your decision! A big cheese else will have to take dependability for your depraved measures if the doo-doo hits the fan.

?. And we all then fall a a small amount deeper onto the sword of ethics?


Everyone's for corporate and individual liability to bring in fiscal pay and/or jail terms exceptionally for those at the top entrusted by us to constantly do what is right. We must be cautious tough. To level our sights only on CEOs or CFOs is to miss the real perpetrators by aiming too low.

Like us, CEOs have bosses too. They account the Board of Directors. Granted, Boards have shareholders to whom they are finally accountable, but in practice, the buck stops at the Board level where ethical decisions - bad or good - are made.

In the book, Built to Last: Lucrative Behavior of Farsighted Companies, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras speak to this issue by highlighting the [Board's], "explicit highlighting on Fair come back instead than Greatest extent return".

Again, I must point out, fine words we can all clinch since they unselfishly orbit about the Blonde Rule of fairness. In general, however, they are not constantly practiced. Sadly, we live more today, an anomaly of biographer *Ayn Rand's existential arrange - there is no room for selflessness in business.

Understand a CEO's ethical dilemma when challenged with a take-it-or-leave-it Greatest arrival challenge. In the end, an executive's lifetime is predicated on one thing: 'carrying out' or being 'carried out'.


My examination must in no way be construed as an approval for the illegalities engaged in by Enron / WorldCom or others still to be discovered. The point is, what they are accused of didn't just come about overnight. Given the right set of circumstances, the right quantity of time, the right large-scale competitive affair climate, the right defense under the law, these large companies evolved - academic to be converted into what they are today.

Does that make them any less culpable? No! But it be supposed to serve more as a lighthouse advice that, a) This challenge is more far-reaching - insidious - than we might once imagined, and, b) It Must be corrected - Quickly!


On a affirmative note, there are and have been many highly regarded studies done on the categorical blow of ethics in the headquarters for illustration **Harvard Big business Discipline Professors John Kotter and James Heskett who considered the accomplishment of 207 large firms over an 11-year period. In their findings they wrote:

Corporate civilization can have a considerable blow on a firm's long-term financially viable performance. They found the firms with cultures that emphasized all the key decision-making constituencies (customers, stockholders, and employees) and leadership from managers from all levels outperformed, by a large margin, firms that did not. Over an 11-year period, the ex- amplified revenues by an arithmetic mean of 682% versus 166% for the latter, lingering their work armed forces by 282% versus 36%, grew their stock prices by 901% versus 74% and superior their net incomes by 756% versus 1%.

The net-net of this demonstrates companies that paid concentration by the same token to customers; stockholders and employees outperformed those that didn't and over an 11-year episode garnered a net augmentation pay packet cause of 756%. Ethics Pays!


On the other hand, all the assured studies in the world will do hardly to stop the dismantling of morals and ethics as long as those who engage in depraved deeds are allowable to continue. It's time Governments and law-enforcement agencies bring more bulldoze to bear on those who sit back comfortably at a detach [Corporate Boards] creating policies that stretch the boundaries of law and fan the flames of ethical undoing.

Stronger laws and penalties with teeth - pecuniary and criminal - are desirable to bring desired cost to previously financially comfortable Board Directors who, I think we'll find out quite quickly, will be more eager to re-embrace the "Do Unto Others" attitude that keep commerce bright and elevates the collective!

* Ayn Rand: Dramatist Atlas Shrugged

** Jeffery L Seglin: Cause The Good the Bad and Your Business

About The Author

Paul Shearstone aka The 'Pragmatic Persuasionist' is one of North America's prime experts on Sales and Persuasion. An Worldwide Essential Speaker, Author, Writer, Motivation, Corporate Ethics, / Time & Stress Management Specialist, Paul enlightens and challenges audiences as he informs, motivates and entertains. To criticism on this condition or to book the Pragmatic Persuasionist for your next booming event we ask to acquaintance Paul Shearstone at once @ 416-728-5556 or 1-866-855-4590. www. success150. com or paul@success150. com.

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