Sometimes I wonder whether this word has become JAB (just another buzzword). I see many people using this word to win the deals, show off that they are the most ethical people in the world or to gain attention by using it often in their discussions. I don’t mean to point out that they all are absolutely unethical or that they mean to be unethical. Its just that they tend to be situational about it. Don’t agree with the title Get Ethical, Get Wealthy!? Answer the below questions –
A. You are in the office and need to make a phone call. Although you will most probably have a mobile phone; you’ll reach out to the desk phone (provided for office use) and then dial. Despite dialing by your own mobile may be more convenient; you get more tempted to use office phone. Why? Is it just habitual? Oh… c’mon don’t give me that look:-).
B. You have gotten a new job and let’s say that you are supposed to relocate. You call in several ‘Movers and Packers’ to get the best deal. One of them gives you the lowest rates and on the top asks if you require a bloated receipt to claim more from the new organization. What do you do?
C. You are asked to deliver a complex assignment. You realize that some new techniques are involved and you get a help from your colleague. He spends a good deal of time in completing the deliverable. You complete it ahead of/on time and look lot better in front of your management. They laud your efforts. How genuinely do you acknowledge that it would have been difficult (if not impossible) without the help of your colleague?
D. Occasionally, while returning the change either a waiter or teller from bank mistakenly gives you additional money. Do you return it or keep it with you assuring yourself that it was God’s turn of pleasing you that day?
E. In some countries, you can return the appliances/goods if you are not satisfied within 30 days; without having to justify the reason. You buy your favorite mobile/TV and then realize within a week that you could also have bought latest version of that appliance within your budget. Although you are NOT dissatisfied in real sense, won’t you return the appliance under the guise of being not satisfied with it?
We come across such scenarios many times in our lives and tend to intentionally ignore. Everybody deals it based on how they THINK is good for them. Most of the folks tend to convince themselves that they are not doing anything wrong or hurting anybody; and hence they take the path which is beneficial to them.
Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, in their international bestseller book ‘Freakonomics’ have brilliantly explained hidden side of everything. Their first chapter covers what is common between the school teachers and Sumo wrestlers and how they cheat. They have explored the beauty of incentives as well as dark side of it – cheating, and how cheating to lose is worse that cheating to win.
In March 2011, Sachin Tendulkar walked off even while 39000 people had gathered to watch his 100th ton and despite being given not out by Australian umpire Steve Davies. There have been many incredible Tendulkar hundreds and many dismissals before achieving the magic number of century, but this was indeed something out of the ordinary. Not too many players have walked off keeping their heads straight when the stakes have been this high.
You know what is CEH, right? Certified Ethical Hacker. Why is it necessary to specifically call it as ethical? Does that mean that Microsoft or Cisco certified professionals are not ethical? Well, these CEH folks are hired by organizations (and paid hefty sums) to explore the loopholes of their network security, if any, and fix them. They are not paid to hack other networks.
Does the need of attention, need of acceptance by greater set of people, greed make people behave ethically only depending on situations? I know that many organizations today make people take ethical training and tests as one of the mandatory activities after joining. I am not sure if most of them take it to just complete the joining formality or realize that they sign for accepting moral responsibility of being ethical at least towards the organization.
Well, some of the confused souls may have questions after reading the blog till here – “It all sounds good, Mr. Philosopher; how do I ensure that whatever I do is ethical? Is there a quick test where I can get a readymade answer if I am being ethical?” Interestingly, the answer is yes and its very simple (assuming that you love/respect your family or friends or have at least one or more dear ones :-)) – Whenever you are confused and are not sure if the task that you are doing is ethical or not, ask if you would do it when your family or friend is around. Would your family or friend be proud for being associated with you to know about it? Would you be able to sleep peacefully without having to feel guilty about it? Being ethical is not necessarily being nice. You may think that stealing some money and buying gifts for your near and dear ones may make them happy and you may consider it nice. But it is not ethical as you wouldn’t do it if they were around. Its situational. In short, ethics cannot be situational.
Not convinced with the above thoughts? How about using silly philosophy or transitive relation in Mathematics for a change? Here – You get to sleep sound without feeling guilty when you are ethical. Sound sleep is a sign of good health. And you know the proverb ‘Health is Wealth’, which ultimately means ethical people are wealthy people… well, wealthy in true sense:-). So, Get Ethical, Get Healthy!!