My job was on the line. Within minutes after the CEO chewed my ear, I arranged a confidential meeting with the operating company president. I briefed him on the situation, described changes that must occur, and I promised to protect his plant management the best I could.
Yesterday, I was contemplating my “to do” list trying to figure out how I was going to get everything done. I soon realized it was not possible – there simply were not enough hours available to do it all.
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.
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 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.