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Suggestions for Codes and Maxims in Business Ethics

Codes and Maxims in Business Ethics Codes and Maxims in Business Ethics

While the whole area of codes and maxims in ethics is fraught with difficulty and interpretation, it is refreshing to think students today debate the same issues and come up with some really refreshing insights.

Below and some insight into ideas and thoughts collated by John Paul Rollert from Harvard students – I found them to be both profound and sound. Indeed, very thought provoking. I hope you feel the same.

Help others without hurting their sense of dignity

An ethical workplace is one where employees help each other. But as anyone who has ever had an overbearing boss can attest, no matter how good the intention, such offers can sometimes seem patronizing. Respecting individuals sense of independence will make the members of any team more likely to ask for, and accept help, especially when they face difficult moral decisions.

Self-control is not at odds with ambition

..it is essential to it. "Ambition is to be admired," It is a driving force behind capitalism, yet there are certain "boundaries that shouldn't be crossed." Pure ambition is not synonymous with personal success so much as with ruthlessness. To be successful, one's personal ambition must ultimately be guided by self-control and an eye toward broader social benefit.

Business may lionize individual achievement

...but responsibility to others is key. "No one person, no matter how ambitious or creative, can exist in isolation or complete independence from others". This is particularly true "in a technologically and economically complex society." The liberties we enjoy in a free society allow us to pursue our personal interests, but they are not without responsibility. One needs to balance them with the outcomes they produce, "lest someone else does the balancing for you."

Your gut is a great moral philosopher.

The feeling one gets in your gut when confronted with a moral conundrum not only precedes reasoned conclusions, it often indicates the best possible decision. "In the end, we have to be satisfied with what we do and not be forced to do certain things to please others". The mind can provide an excuse to do just about anything, but "the actual feeling that one gets when taking action" is not only morally reliable, it is not easily overruled.

A strong supporter of this perspective can be found in the father of the free market, Adam Smith. For him, morality was not some obscure science. Whenever someone tried to convince us of a moral matter, they aimed "to give an account, not only of the affairs of the very parish that we live in, but of our own domestic concerns." Certainly, we could reason away the wise counsel of the heart — human beings, Smith believed, were very skilled at making the expedient appear the just — but if we listened to the voice of our best instincts, our own and those of other people, we would rarely be led astray.

Peter Buckley

I coach and develop individuals and businesses, in the private and public sector, Internationally and in the UK at board C-Suite and operational levels. Acknowledged outstanding results delivered through bespoke individual and team coaching, mentoring and leadership development to enable performance and productivity improvement with positive team dynamics and sustainable enhanced morale.


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