It has been said that ethics are like kids.
Almost everyone has them, but no two are the same. Perhaps that is what makes ethics so hard to define. At least, hard to define to a level that all, or even most, can embrace.[su_spacer]
For me, ethics is a standard of conduct that is morally acceptable and conforms to what most would consider a high level of professional standards.[su_spacer]
So, you ask, just what is “morally acceptable”? Good question. Certainly “morally acceptable is not the same for an Islamic terrorist as it is for a Christian minister or a first-grade student. That definition obviously leaves a lot of wiggle room.[su_spacer]
A “high level of professional standards” is likewise a bit iffy. Professional standards tend to be defined by each individual and can vary from country to country or even from day to day as the need or urge presents itself. Professional standards are not even the same across business types. A high level of professional standards for the manager of a strip club may be as simple as not watering the drinks and don’t let the clientele touch the girls. Not the same standards as the manager of a Macy’s department store or a fine dining restaurant.[su_spacer]
A person once told me that ethics are the way you live that lets you sleep well at night. Well, okay but one has to wonder if Hitler slept well knowing that he was having hundreds of thousands murdered. But then one could argue that he had no ethics anyway, so there may be some basis for that as a definition.[su_spacer]
Another definition that I’ve heard is ethical standards is not doing or saying anything that willfully harms another person. That may have more than a kernel of truth to it. Though certainly, a leader would find it very hard to follow that path when downsizing a department or company.[su_spacer]
Perhaps there is not a single definition of ethics that fits all situations. Maybe it is a combination of all those things. Maybe it is as simple as doing what you know in your heart is the right thing to do, even when it is not in your personal best interest. After all, it is easy to be ethical when there is no skin in the game.[su_spacer]