What are ethics and values? Ethics and values can seem rather similar, but there is a basic difference. Values define one’s personal character while ethics stresses more of a system in which those values are applied or expected. In other words, ethics point to a standard of codes or rules expected to be followed by the group or organization to which the individual belongs. This could be anything from religion, clubs, the workplace or even family. So while a person’s values are usually unchanging, the ethics he or she practices can be greatly different. A definition of values and ethics is important in understanding its fundamentals.
Different sources of ethics and values can then be considered, and examples that may or may not have used values and ethics to get ahead in career success are examined. Values can be defined as things that are important to or valued by someone. That someone can be an individual or, collectively, an organization. One place where values are important is in relation to vision. According to Dictionary. com (2010), values are “beliefs of a person or social group in which they have an emotional investment (either for or against something); ‘he has very conservative values’. Ethics are considered the moral standards by which people judge behavior. Ethics are often summed up in what is considered the “golden rule”—do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Ethics is defined as “a system of moral principles” Dictionary. com (2010). One source of professional ethics and values can be found in international development. “Development ethicists assess the ends and means of local, national, regional, and global development” (Crocker, 2004, para. 1). Workers involved in international development include policy makers, project managers, grassroots communities, and international aid donors.
Each of these confronts moral questions in their work. Thus, ethical principles are implemented to work in bringing social change to poor, developing countries. Ethical principles come from people who have set standards in values and ethics in the past, such as Mohandas Gandhi in India. He actively criticized colonialism and orthodox imperialism. His demonstration of kindness and self-giving provides a code of ethics for people working in International Development. Another source of ethics and values in international development is the work of economist Paul Streeten.
He successfully addressed injustices such as hunger and economic inequality by introducing a new idea of development based on ethical principles. He called the idea his “basic human needs strategy” (Crocker, 2004, para. 4). He stresses the value of self-respect and respect of others. In doing so he sheds an ethical light on development, arguing that “development should be understood ultimately not as economic growth, industrialization, or modernization… but as the expansion of people’s valuable capabilities and functionings” (Crocker, 2004, para. 4).
Having good values and ethics on the professional setting is important. Many people read their jobs rules and regulations when they first start. Knowing these rules can make the job easier, which can lead to great success. Different sources that can be used to ensure all business matters are handled properly include but are not limited to: the code of conduct that the individual business uses, the bylaws governing ethics, and the state in which the person is employed. The code of conduct is where the values and ethics for a company or school can be found (Wikipedia, 2010).
This source provides all the rules any employee of that particular company must follow. Some of these rules can affect personal life. Most companies have a drug-free work environment and conduct extensive background checks to ensure the person being hired will not be at risk for breaking code. Most large companies – especially ones with multiple offices or stores – also have a set of bylaws. According to The Free Dictionary (2005), bylaws are the same as the code of conduct but are directed to executives and officers, and are followed along with the rules in the code of conduct.
In retail there are different managers on different levels. Besides the basic rules that everyone follows, people of higher ranking have additional rules to accompany their job description and duties. State rules and regulations apply to everyone in a particular state. Usually they coincide with the organization’s rules. A business in California might be the same as the business in New York, but because of the different state rules one might violate the company’s policies.
Violating policies or not adhering to ethical principles can greatly affect the level of success one achieves in a career. A twist on how values and ethics affect career success involves an example shown in negative light, specifically professional athletes who put illegal drugs into their bodies for performance enhancement. By doing this they show they have no values or ethics and are trying to unfairly get an edge by cheating. In baseball, the late 90’s had two big sluggers named Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.
They led a homerun terror which brought in tons of revenue for the teams they played on, the league, and for the individual players. Just recently it was revealed that Mark McGwire was taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (“McGwire: Too Toxic to Return,” 2010), and even though he won’t admit it, Sammy Sosa was more than likely doing the same during the epic Homerun battle that he had with McGwire. In addition another player from a different team, Barry Bonds, admitted to unknowingly taking a steroid which aided him in breaking the home run all-time record (“Under a Cloud of Suspicion,” 2006).
There have been others who took steroids, and they paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives. Some people will do whatever it takes to get ahead. They will cheat if they can get away with it, some even taking it so far that they know the end result is losing years off their life (USA Today, 2004). It is a big price to pay to be rich and famous for just a few years; because once it’s all gone, what do they have left to show for it other than serious health problems?
Another example of how professional values and ethics may affect career success: In the medical field there are many hospitals closing due to the lack of financial return on medical care, as well as fraudulent affairs (Catholic Health East, 2010). Obtaining incorrect patient information because of employees’ laxity can result in a lack of money in the hospital. Many services that are presented to insurance companies for payment are denied for the slightest incorrect info. Projects in which services are upgraded go unfinished due to lack of funding when there are no supportive documents.
This type of behavior can affect one’s job because the hospital can go out of business and/or be held liable for their actions. In conclusion, ethics can perhaps be defined as being wrong according to certain authority figures, as in medical ethics. It is ethical, by medical standards, to treat a soldier from another army, even though that man was just trying to kill you and your squad, because some one with authority says it is the ethical thing to do. This is something that is recognized in society as something that doctors must do, but non-doctors are not required to do this at all.
Values can be defined by what one perceives right from wrong. For example, one may think cheating during a test is fine, while another may consider it wrong. The first person’s values include integrity and honesty, and the second person’s lack of values promotes dishonest behavior. People’s lives and careers are affected by their personal code of ethics, which can be defined and traced to many different sources. Knowledge of where our values and ethics come from shapes each of us and lays the foundation for our lives.