Acid test for ethics

In Life’s Pitch: Then you Buy, marketing consultant Don Peppers offers some principles to help you determine whether particular action is ethical or not.
Full disclosure is the best policy.
Anything that can be done openly and publicly without embarrassment is inherently ethical. But the converse is not true — things that must remain secret aren’t necessarily unethical. Competition inherently involves secrecy, and even deception.
* Aiding or abetting someone else who is acting unethically is itself unethical. Ever been approached by someone who promises to recommend your firm provided you agree to pay finder’s fee if you get the business?
Paying finder’s fee to secure business isn’t unethical at its face. But if you suspect the recipient is deceiving his principal, you are just as guilty as he or she is.
One way to sort this dilemma out is to use the “disclosure” principle. If someone asks for finder’s fee, ask for letter from his or her client authorising him or her to collect such fee.
* Respect your fiduciary respon-sibilities, to your employer, your employees, your shareholders and your clients. It’s unethical to betray the trust of those whose interests you are being paid to represent.
Fiduciary responsibilities are the second edge of the two-edged ethical sword. For instance, if you choose not to pursue casino business or tobacco account because it would violate your own ethical standards, you first need to balance that decision against the economic interests of your employer or shareholders.
Discussing these issues with your employer in advance of having to make decisions about them would help immensely.
* Don’t tolerate competitive playing field that isn’t level. This rule covers wide territory. No collusion with your competitors, for instance.
And don’t deny economic oppor-tunities to others for reasons such as race gender or religion.

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