It is time to take a critical look at ourselves. It’s time to dwell deep into our consciousness and fathom our driving factors. Let’s ask the tough questions: Are we being led by mere profit making thoughts? Has capitalism rendered results more relevant than the processes? Does being ethical mean that you are not playing it smart enough?
Such questions often pop-up during our professional dealings. Our response to them decides which side of the fence we choose to sit on. In a free market, where cash is the king, being ethical is not always the easy thing to do.
According to a recent Harvard study, almost 70% of unethical behavior is due to the pressure to meet unrealistic business objectives. The paper concludes that most people value ethical behavior, but are sometimes swept up in the dark side by biases that influence their decisions.
According to this survey, the various causes that propagate unethical behavior include:
• 69.7% Pressure to meet unrealistic business objectives/deadlines
• 38.5% Desire to further one’s career
• 33.8% Desire to protect one’s livelihood
• 31.1% Working in environment with cynicism or diminished morale
• 27.7% Improper training/Ignorance that the act was unethical
• 24.3% Lack of consequence if caught
• 23.5% Need to follow bosses’ orders
• 14.9% Peer pressure/Desire to be a team player
• 9.5% Desire to steal from or harm the organization
• 18.7% Wanting to help the organization survive
• 7.9% Desire to save jobs
• 6.9% A sense of loyalty
The paper suggests that we tend to ignore unethical behaviour for various reasons:
1) Recognizing such unethical behaviour might harm us.
2) Ignore any unethical behaviour unless it gest blatantly exposed.
3) We become used to such unethical practices slowly over time.
4) Where are overwhelmed by the outcomes rather than decision process.
Talking about ethical behaviour in the Indian context, it seems we have a long way to go since our reasons are much more complex than our western counterparts, and have somehow become acceptable in the society. In an era where scams are unearthed in India almost on a daily basis, practising professional ethics is not only a challenging proposition but an inevitable one too. And it has to start from the top in any corporate.
While the study lists the components of the unethical trend, it seems our reasons for propagating the same fall beyond its purview.