Ethics often form a significant part of an organisations vision and mandate, outlining why they are important and what they mean to that organisation. They form the foundation of the organisations culture. Any managerial or leadership training will often include discussion around ethics, and this sort of training is extremely important if we want to try and create a culture that resonates with the people we serve.
It could be a decision to come forward about some wrong-doing you have witnessed. These sort of scenarios are quite often used when discussing ethics. You’ve witnessed your close colleagues do something they shouldn’t, and you’re faced with a decision about what to do. Well, this is not an ethical decision. You know what they did was wrong when compared against the ethics of the organization. So the only right thing to do is to take action. Whether that is tackling the problem yourself, working with others and letting them know what has happened, etc. Either way, it is a hard, unpopular decision, not an ethical dilemma. Unpopular is often the key. That’s what makes it hard.
So, the next time you are discussing ethics and are presented with case studies and scenarios, take a hard look and question whether it really is an ethical dilemma. The next time you chalk a decision you have made down to an ethical decision, make sure it is. Take some time to reflect, and make sure you’re not hiding away from a tough decision and masking it as an ethical one, because you haven’t been able to find the moral courage needed to make the decision within the context that it is – a hard decision, not an ethical one.