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April 2008


Ethics On - The - Job
A Practical Guide For Personal Decision Making

Regardless of how good any organization's Code of Ethics may be, the Code itself is still only a guideline.  It cannot actually make ethical decisions for us or serve as a substitute for thinking for ourselves and personal moral responsibility.

The following are steps suggesting a decision-making process to supplement an organization's Code of Ethics.  Want to achieve real success in ethics?  Try asking yourself these questions before making a decision:

Key Questions

1. What?

What has actually happened, what is happening, or what may happen in this particular case?

A. Awareness - Am I aware of the ethical problem or obligation on my part?

B.  Facts - Do I know all the facts I need to know or am I about to act on rumor?  Is this a legal or policy issue and not primarily an         ethical issue?

C.  Attitude - Am I letting biases or emotions embellish the facts?  Or, am I ignoring the facts altogether out of indifference or callousness?

2. Who?

Who is involved, and in what way?

A.  Responsibility - Who is responsible for bringing about the ethical issue or causing the ethical problem?  Who should be responsible for deciding what to do?

B.  Consequences to Self and Others - Who is, or may be, affected by this issue?

C.  Decision and Action - Who is responsible for deciding and acting in this case?  You by yourself?  Or should others be involved as well?  If so, who and to what extent?

3. How?

How do I decide what is the right choice?

A.  Choices - What number of choices are open to me or to those of us making a decision?  List them all, on paper.

B.  Values and Principles - List and rank, in order of priority, the values and principles that you or your group think are most important in guiding your moral choice.

C.  Decision - From "A" and "B" above, select the choice and the supporting values and principles that can best justify a decision that could be made public.




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