Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ethics In An Unethical World

A friend recently said to me, "You don't know whom to trust anymore."  He was not only referring to the economic woes on Wall St. among some of our major financial institutions, but to the small businesses and financial establishments on the local scene, as well.    Among the things which have contributed to these woes are the unethical practices of some.  False advertising is used to promote a product.  Inaccurate weights and measures are used in selling goods.  Businesses cut corners in order to compete for customers.  Some seem to be intent on fleecing the public for their personal gain.  Such conduct makes everyone suspicious of the other.

The health of our entire economic community, as well as our personal relationships, is built upon high ethical standards. When you take your car to a repairman, you want to have confidence in the mechanic and know he will do the work you have requested. You don't want to be told about work that in reality doesn’t need to be done. In like manner, employers have a right to expect an honest day's work for an honest day's pay. Who would want to be operated on by a surgeon who cheated his way through medical school? Neither do we want officers who cheated their way through a military academy to command our fighting men.

I'm convinced that business ethics should be taught in our colleges and universities throughout the country. Future business leaders need to be taught a value system that increases profits by producing a quality product and by building greater customer satisfaction and confidence. Primarily, however, the establishment of a good value system begins in the home. Children learn their values from their parents. Honesty and integrity is not instilled in children when they see their parents turn in false income tax forms or refuse to pay their debts. A mother who misrepresents the age of her children in order to get a discount is not teaching them honesty. A father who turns back the speedometer on his car before selling it sets an example of dishonesty.

The apostle Paul said in Romans 12:17, "Provide for things honest in the sight of all men." This statement is not only good advice for business dealings, but its practice is essential to spiritual vitality. Solomon said in Proverbs 11, "A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight." The greatest statement on ethical conduct was related by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. He simply said, "However you want people to treat you, so treat them" (Matthew 7:12). The practice of this principle would eliminate dishonesty and promote respect for one another. Unethical practices do not need to be employed in order to make a living. Neither do they need to be used to transact business profitably. In fact, when people see that they are being dealt with in a fair and honest way, they will not only come back but tell others, which will greatly improve business.

Undoubtedly, if world leaders treated each other as they would like to be treated, international relations would improve dramatically. If CEOs and other leaders of some of our major corporations had practiced this principle, we might not be facing the financial difficulties we are facing today in America. Treating others as you would like them to treat you is not only good business sense, it’s just good common sense.

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