When challenged about ethical standards people can feel backed into a corner and begin what is called “creative labeling” or “making exceptions” for their decision or behavior as in the example below.
An employee was responsible for ordering supplies for the office and the supply company she orders from always has some sort of give-away if you purchase a certain amount of product. This month it is a designer tote if your order was over $300.
What luck, this employee’s daughter was turning 18-years-old and would love this designer tote. She placed an order of $300 and waited for her prize. The supplies came and she took the tote home and her daughter was thrilled on her birthday.
When her boss was reviewing the bills at month end he happened to notice on the supply invoice that a free gift Designer tote was sent, and asked the employee where it was. Do you see anything wrong? After all it was free and the office needed the supplies it wasn’t like the employee was stealing or was it?
The employee failed to think about the fact that it wasn’t her money that purchased the supplies and that the business owner actually owned the “prize.” There are times that people will have ethical lapses simply because they fail to realize that there are ethical considerations involved.
In George Mazzeo’s book “Sleeping Dogs…Ethics in the Workplace” he talks about three questions that you can ask yourself as an ethical test of your decision-making process.
1. Who will benefit from the decision you are making?
2. Who if anyone will suffer from the decision?
3. How would you feel if the situation were reversed?
By asking yourself these three questions and thinking them through for the answers you will steer yourself in the right direction every time.
“Always do right, this will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” ~ Mark Twain