Posts Tagged ‘Ethics’

True Ethics?

Posted: June 14, 2008 in Uncategorized

So this last semester I took a class called Business Ethics. Now don’t get me wrong, it is a great class but can you really teach ethics? The rash of unethical business people in the news shows us that indeed there is a problem and it needs to be fixed but is a classroom the right way? Don’t get me wrong, I am all for a more ethical marketplace. Ethics is a win-win for everyone. I really don’t think ethics in class is going to help as much as society thinks.

So the biggest reason I think teaching ethics will not work is the definition, “the rules or standards governing the conduct of a person.” These standards come from within. They are, or should be, taught to us while we are young and strengthened as we grow. Parents and school teachers growing up should be the ones to teach ethics, not university professors. This isn’t to say that if you grow up in a broken home or if you are an orphan or go to a bad school that you will not be ethical but I an just stating that there is a better chance that ethics will be instilled. They can be brought up later in life but not always is it going to be through a classroom setting, in fact I would venture to say that most of the time ethics will not be learned in class.

Many times ethics are gathered from ones spiritual beliefs as well. Religion is a big part of life for any culture and always brings with it a certain code of conduct. The need to please the god of any religion is enough to keep some from unethical behavior. This is the big reason many colleges receive great rankings for their graduates. Students from religious private universities are supposed to be more ethical and it stems from that belief in an after-life. As we have seen this is not always the case. Ken Lay of Enron fame was the son of a minister and he still had a few problems with ethics, which brings me to my next point.

The old adage that everything is for sale fits well with ethics. How much will you sell your ethical standards for? When ethics are “learned” in a college classroom, without any help from some epiphany, it is usually only a matter of time until these ethics are “sold” to make a buck or rise up the corporate ladder. Really the way I see it is that learned ethics are only temporary. Now this isn’t the case 100% of the time but I feel it is pretty good. Unfortunately many people now are selling out their ethical standards. The need to make a quick buck or to grow your business portfolio has become a bigger draw for some than keeping their standards. The mortgage crisis has proven this with the number of loans that are now deemed to be “bad” loans but at the time were the mortgage industry’s cash crop.

Maybe the day will come when we will not need to teach ethics in a classroom. It will take a change in the society as a whole. Can we change? Yes. Will we….