Business is complex, so it is vital that businesspeople can recognize and address ethical issues as they arise. Ethical awareness and framing is the first step in ethical decision-making. Awareness and framing involve exploring and evaluating both the ethical and business aspects of a situation. It also means recognizing the ethical implications of one’s actions and potential repercussions from decisions.

Examples

Work force of good

Workplace campaigns continue to be a considerable player in charitable giving, generating over $4 billion annually. Workplace giving campaigns provide…

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Ethics as a process

Use this diagram as a way to frame and make ethical decisions. There are many recommendations for how to go…

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Getting culture right as your company grows

Q: How can we grow and maintain our culture? We have a strong company culture. We are growing regionally. How…

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Practical Guidance

Blind spots: Enhance objectivity

First impressions can block objectivity, which can cause missed opportunities. Sometimes wanting to be "right" can take us in the wrong direction. This video was used with kind permission of PwC. June 23, 2017.

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The Four Avenues Approach for Ethical Decision-making

Dr. Kenneth Goodpaster, Ph.D., professor emeritus at the University of St. Thomas One way to think through a decision is to use the "four avenues." Each "avenue" provides a different way to think about an issue. By working through all avenues, the final outcome is more likely to be ethically strong. The four avenues are: InterestsRightsDutiesVirtues Let's start with the "interest-based" avenue. In this avenue, you look at who has an interest in the outcome of the issue you are facing. The best decision here will be the one that satisfies the interests of the most parties, as shown below:…

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The ethical decision-making process

While values are the foundation of ethical behavior, an ethical decision-making process lends clarity to difficult situations. Following the process guides decision-makers through problems to reach a workable solution. Using this model helps avoid unethical alternatives and unattractive consequences. Generally, a decision-making process should include the steps shown in the diagram below. Here are some definitions to help you work through the steps: Facts: The answers to who, what, when, where, why, and how. Be careful about jumping to conclusions or making assumptions.Ethical Issue: The ethical question to be resolved. Try to stick with one issue at a time. Stakeholders:…

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What do you do when it comes to business ethics?

As a business owner, there's plenty of challenges that you know how to handle yourself, but what about when it comes to business ethics? Ethics in business don't come with an easy playbook or assigned advisor to help you manage them. Your CPA might be able to find financial impropriety, but that doesn't mean they can help you deal with the individuals involved. According to our survey of 301 small business owners and managers1, 63 percent "rely on themselves" when handling ethical issues. But there's no reason you have to tackle these complicated problems on your own. There are several…

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Being your best self, part I: Moral awareness

Moral awareness is the first step along the pathway to consistent ethical behavior. It begins with an individual's ability to detect a moral principle in danger or notice the violation of an ethical principle. Individuals who have strong moral awareness appreciate the ethical aspects of a decision that one must make.

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Framing

Framing describes how our responses to situations, including our ethical judgments, are impacted just by how those situations are posed or viewed.

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Does your business face an ethics issue? Cast a wide net when seeking advice

Q: When dealing with an ethical dilemma in my organization, should I gain input from others first? A: I would highly suggest gaining additional insight from a variety of organizational stakeholders before making any ethical decision. My father gave me excellent advice years ago: You must seek and consider all sides of an argument in order to make a well-informed decision. In following this advice, there are several items I recommend being cognizant of when seeking information from others. First, identify whether the information you are receiving is based in fact or simply an individual’s opinion. Factual information can be…

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Ethical Decision-Making Process: Turning Philosophy into Action

Dealing with ethical issues can be perplexing. How, exactly, should we think through the alternatives? What questions should we ask? What factors should we consider? Classic ethical reasoning methods suggest that once we have ascertained the facts, we should ask ourselves five questions when trying to resolve an ethical issue: Who are the stakeholders? What are their interests in this matter? Do those interests conflict? What virtues are at play in dealing with the ethical dilemma? (Virtue Ethics) What benefits and harms will each course of action produce on the stakeholders? Which alternative course of action will lead to the…

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