Acting ethically is the only option
When the choice is to feed your family or break the rules, your decision isn’t tough. Who could blame Jean Valjean in Les Miserables for his choice to feed his family? We even applaud Robin Hood for stealing. But when you are the boss and you have to decide whether to fire employees or fudge numbers so you can keep them on board, the decision might be more difficult. Being ethical has a higher cost in hard times than in good times, which makes being ethical difficult in our current economic climate. But, even good times can encourage bad behavior as one might get a sense of invincibility when the money is rolling in.
Philosophers and theologians make abstract appeals to a higher good that lose their force when confronted with real world choices. Those things that are immediate and tangible have a greater impact on our decisions than those that are obscure or distant. In addition to all the reasons academics, philosophers and ethicists give for being ethical, there arepersuasive reasons you for being ethical, particularly when times are tough. And when times are good, you may find that acting ethically may even help prevent a turn for the worse.
Acting Ethically Will Make You Money
There is no doubt that one can make a quick buck by being dishonest. However, when one takes a long-range outlook, this policy has a detrimental impact on the bottom line. Companies thrive off new ideas and innovation. If company policy states an employee must report an idea to a superior before pitching it to the entire company, there is a risk that the immediate superior may co-opt that idea as their own. This creates an atmosphere of distrust in which the best ideas are not being circulated for fear they might be stolen. Or, worse, the company may lose their young rising stars to the competition and be left only with the burn outs whose best ideas are behind them.
Managers must create a safe environment for those who generate ideas to be recognized for them; encouraging them to work harder and to pursue their best ideas. Operating in this fashion will allow your company to stay on the cutting edge and not get run over by the competition.
Acting Ethically Will Save You Money
Think of all the money your company has spent on accounting, HR and the legal department because, at some point in the company’s history, some people thought it would be a good idea to act badly. Compliance related expenses cut into your bottom line and steal resources from more lucrative ventures.