There are times in your professional life where standing up for honest values feels like a lonely place to be. You may be the only one around willing to walk away from a fast buck and stick up for what is right. Maybe you find yourself standing alone while others run for cover in the midst of a scandal. Or possibly you work in an environment that tolerates dishonesty, shortcuts, and bad behavior. Whatever kind of place you find yourself (good or bad), you must understand the importance of ethics for your own sake, and also for the sake of your company, the people you deal with, and for the betterment of our civilized society.
Your ethical decisions don’t happen in a vacuum. You may think that you are acting alone but in fact your personal actions have concrete consequences far beyond yourself. For this reason, you can’t assume that your good deeds (or bad) don’t make a difference, because they do. When you feel like you’re the only honest person in the room, don’t lose heart but consider the benefits of taking the high road.
First, good ethics is beneficial to you as a person. It is hard to perceive the personal benefit from an ethical decision when it’s more profitable to take the dishonest path. But your life is merely part of a larger personal journey where the choices you make here and now mold and shape who you are at your very core. This is called character building. It is part of an important process by which you develop habits and attitudes that will last a lifetime. Don’t stagnate in your personal character growth but keep moving forward by becoming emotionally and spiritually sound and cognizant.
Of course there’s no greater feeling in life than a clear conscience and peace of mind. This allows you to experience the kind of stability and security that cannot be achieved by living a selfish, dishonest existence. At its core, ethics is about learning to play by the rules, live by standards, and know where you stand. It feels good and does you good.
But the benefits of good ethics in business aren’t just limited to one’s internal state. The benefits lead to professional success and profitability as well. Honest people develop good relationships, better customer service, deeper trust, and the kinds of behaviors and attitudes that lead to success.
Besides the personal benefit, your ethics is good for your employer and the entire industry. Your behavior and leadership is an inspiration to others as you raise the bar in your everyday ethical behavior. Whether you’re in a position of leadership or not, your positive presence acts as a stabilizing force that has a profound impact on the work environment. Your honest actions can have a ripple effect across your organization.
As your company gains a reputation as an ethical business, it grabs the attention of consumers and competitors. The reputation of your industry is helped when people do their job right and companies do business honestly and fairly. The bottom line is that something very powerful can happen to entire organizations and industries when a person decides to stand up for what is right.
But the circle of influence doesn’t stop there. An honest, healthy business is a good thing for the entire community. A community is best served when businesses that provide jobs, products, and services are honest and ethical in their dealings. Customers benefit from better service and trust. Employees and mangers benefit by having security and confidence in their employer. All these things have a positive impact on our economy and make our communities a better place to live and work.
In good and bad times you must be encouraged to stay the course and not ditch your ethical values when it’s convenient. You must stay strong and not turn back. You see, the world needs ethical people like you. Your employer, coworkers, and customers need an ethical person like you on the job. Even you need it on a deeply personal level to live a good, satisfying life. Whatever hardships you encounter along your ethical path should not deter you but provide all the more reason to move onward and upward to win the good fight.