Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

It Takes Strength

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

It Takes Strength

Article excerpt

There is a familiarity that breeds contempt. It is so in the world of physical things and it is so in the world of ideas. It is especially so in the realm of ethics. If we do not familiarize ourselves with ethical principals, we risk being undereducated and unprepared in a time of crises. But if we become too familiar with them we risk taking ethics for granted and becoming apathetic about their application.

You see the contemptuous familiarity in the rolling eyes and heavy sighs of those employees scheduled for another corporate ethics training session. "Not again," one person protests. "I'm sick of this stuff," another moans. It seems, to them, that ethics consists of nothing more than preaching, teaching and nagging about doing the right thing. "Why must this dead horse be beaten?" they wonder.

The horse need not be beaten, but ethics must still be underscored, highlighted, italicized and talked about frequently because it is so important to the long-term success of individuals, organizations and communities. Some believe the emphasis on ethics is a sign of weakness and that people of principle are suckers waiting to be taken advantage of. Research, however, tells a different story. It is not a sign of weakness to be ethical but, rather, a sign of strength. Those individuals and companies who practice ethics will ultimately find more success than those immoral sharks prowling the shallow water.

Strategic advantages

Peter Dean, professor of ethics and business at Indiana State University, believes this is true. Dean worked in the business world for years and is now bringing his real-world expertise to the classroom. Here's what he had to say in a recent interview:

"It is very hard to justify ethics on a short-term basis. If you are only worried about next quarter's profit, the chance that you will really work at forming an ethical organization is small. But if you care about having your organization continue into the future, beyond your own lifetime, then you will work very hard at forming an ethical organization because the strategic advantages are simply enormous: you get to recruit the best people, you get to find the best suppliers, you get to find the best customers and the most loyal ones. …

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