The American Economy-Attitudes and Opinions

By A. Dudley Ward | Go to book overview

10
Honesty as a Standard

Working Women's Groups

In the time devoted to the discussion of moral and ethical standards most of the working women's groups gave their attention mainly to honesty and integrity. They assumed this to be a primary standard, not only as an ethical principle but also as "the best policy." As the discussions proceeded, some problems emerged involving interpretations and qualifications in cases of conflict with other values. The problem of divided loyalties was frequently raised.

A Southern group made up largely of office, sales, and industrial workers discussed honesty as truth-telling through much of one session. Some comments during this discussion, as quoted from the verbatim report: "Sometimes you have to tell little 'white lies' to keep from hurting someone . . . to soften the truth a little bit -- take off the rough edges to keep it from being blunt and hateful." "There should be honesty with material things, but you may not always want complete honesty with emotions, social acquaintances, etc. You may want to spare another the hurt." "In business there is a different policy between honesty and softening the truth" (meaning may be guessed). "I usually try to help out [complaining] customers -- apply the Golden Rule, believing that if I am honest with others they will be with me . . . but sometimes I feel that they are taking advantage."

The question was asked by the leader: "Are you ever torn between two loyalties -- to the boss and to the people in the shop or office with you?" Among the comments: "If you felt that a girl wasn't getting a fair deal you might side with her knowing that it might put you in bad with the boss -- that you might be endangering your job. Perhaps he would appreciate your honesty but that is a chance you have to take." "Would you know unless you met the situation?" "Don't you think the personality of the boss would have something to do with it? If the boss were a certain type and you did not like him too well, you might be glad to speak up for the wronged worker; on the other hand, if you thought he was a pretty right guy, you might keep

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