The fear of “what if” is a significant driver in making ethical decisions. This fear can lead to positive results • Fear of getting in an accident – can prevent drinking and driving • Fear of getting caught – can prevent falsifying information • Fear of hurting someone else – can prevent unsafe behavior.
One of the more difficult situations in which to make an ethical decision is when more than one person is potentially impacted by your action and their expectations of how you should proceed are in conflict.
One of the ongoing discussions about OH&S management systems revolves around what it is exactly that the organization should be accomplishing. In “standards speak” this is referred to as the “intended outcomes” of the OH&S management system.
The last few weeks I have been focused on the difficult task of drafting and analyzing comments on the draft ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 standards. This has caused me to focus on the issue of making commitments.
In the last two weeks, the United States has decided to send military personnel and aid workers to Africa in an attempt to help address the Ebola outbreak. Clearly, assistance is needed but decisions regarding what should be done are more complicated that sending in more people.
In discussions of ethics, we often focus on rules. We analyze codes of ethics and we evaluate our legal obligations. Yet, ethical conduct incorporates three values that we intrinsically understand yet often have difficulty defining – trust, transparency and truthfulness.
Acting ethically requires constant vigilance. One slip-up can have serious, long-term consequences. A recent news report demonstrates the importance of a strong defense when it comes to acting ethically.
Two weeks ago, I went to a presentation by Kelly McBride on the topic of ethics and the media. Kelly is the ethicist with the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg FL. She also contributes to an NPR broadcast.