Did you know that companies who succeed in hiring ethical employees and are themselves ethical are more successful than those who do not?
According to the Executive Leadership Foundation, $30,000 invested in the Dow Jones Industrial Average 30 years ago would be worth $134,000. Not bad, but if you invested the same $30,000 in the top 15 ethically responsible companies in their study, that $30,000 investment would be worth over $1,000,000. That’s a pretty big advantage for the socially responsible company over the long haul!
Based on the growth potential alone it is not surprising most companies say they want to hire employees who exhibit strong ethical behavior.
Sadly, when push comes to shove, many employees fall off the ethical wagon.
In his book, There’s No Such Thing as Business Ethics, author John Maxwell relates five factors that most often cause someone to cross ethical boundaries:
How many companies have imploded like Enron because of pressure to meet Wall Street expectations? Sales managers pressure sales reps to meet a quota so the rep cuts corners or makes unsubstantiated claims to make a sale. Contractors pressure suppliers for lower prices to win bids and end up with inferior materials. Pressure to make a number or do a deal exists in all kinds of companies from the largest of the Fortune 500 to the neighborhood entrepreneur.
James admonished believers to stand firmly against pressure and not give in, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).
The desire to attain a certain lifestyle; a bigger house, nicer cars, and more toys is a common cause of ethical breaches. I’ve personally had to deal with sales reps that mishandled company funds hoping to increase sales, earn a promotion and the bigger salary, for the sole purpose of having “more.”
Paul warned that those who love pleasure do not love God, “treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4).
Lord Acton was right when he said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Power is addictive. A good person achieves a position of responsibility and the power that goes with the position. Pretty soon they exercise their power to maintain their position rather than to serve others. Eventually, they will use their power to abuse and even crush those who stand against them. Power is a seductive mistress that ends in destruction.
Solomon noted, “The wise prevail through great power, and those who have knowledge muster their strength” (Proverbs 24:5).
There is nothing wrong with working hard to achieve a goal and being proud when the goal is accomplished. But when pride leads to an exaggerated sense of self-worth it becomes destructive. Pride causes you to put someone else down to build yourself up. Pride causes people to refuse to admit their mistakes and instead, blame others for their shortfalls.
Solomon, writing in Proverbs said, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).
Do you have a moral compass that guides your path? Those that do not have a predetermined set of moral guidelines or established principles are especially susceptible to ethical lapses. Establishing priorities for your life informed by moral principles provides a protective hedge from ethical lapses.
Paul, writing to the Romans, admonished them to keep their focus on God, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
Pressure, pleasure, power, and pride are not bad in and of themselves. It is when there is too much pressure, too great a focus on pleasure, a reliance on power, or a prideful attitude that ethical lapses occur in otherwise ethical people. That’s precisely why having solid priorities based on Godly values are so important.
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As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked with someone who crossed ethical lines? If so, was it because of too much pressure, pleasure, power, pride, or bad priorities?
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Category: Personal Development | Character