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Much Ado about Ethics

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Here in IL... Ethics is the hot topic. I, along with other state workers, have to take a 60 minute Ethics quiz and this is a subject that I have no idea about. Does anybody out there have any idea or ideas about what ethics is? and what is your own thoughts about the subject of ethics?
post #2 of 9
Just guessing, but it is probably about good behavior in the workplace. You know, about how to deal with your co-workers, the general public, your superiors, following some kind of protocol when there's problems, stuff like that...
post #3 of 9
I think they are referring to something more often called 'corporate compliance'. It applies to government & not-for-profits as well.
In some organizations, people at a certain level & above need to complete/sign a questionnaire on an annual basis relating to their understanding of and compliance with the organization's 'business' ethics.

I would think that in the case of state-employed individuals, it would include questions about actions/attitudes which, if in place & (as importantly) understood & followed, help keep the state agencies 'beyond reproach'. I'm sure that your agency or the state has a rule about taking gifts from outside people with whom the state does business: usually that is prohibited completely, or above a certain (usually small) $$ amount. So, if the guy who rents copiers to your agency sends the people who work in the purchasing/contracts department a case of wine during the holidays, you are not supposed to accept it. Another example would be not using the department's petty cash fund to take the department out for an holiday luncheon: if you want to go to lunch to celebrate the holidays, you pay for it yourself. It might also include things that relate to equal-opportunity laws: if you are interviewing someone for a job, their age, sex, religion etc should not matter, as it should not matter in your interractions with co-workers.

That would be my guess. If this has not been done before, and is being called a 'quiz' to be given to all state employees, they are probably trying to gauge peoples' awareness of the rules as much as anything else. If 70% of the employees think it is okay for an outside company rep to take them to a $50 lunch, then the state's compliance/ethics office needs to re-evaluate how they are informing employees of the rules, before they even worry about whether they are being enforced.

Hopefully, most the 'right' answers will be apparent to you. But if for example they have a $$ amount relating to accepting small gifts from outside people, and you don't know what that amount is, the problem is more the state's educational process than yours. If it turns out to be something like this, where the questions relate to $$, there is a good chance that the most cautious/conservative answer is probably the right one, because you represent the government.

post #4 of 9
I studied a 'professional ethics' module in university. The majority of it was just common sense. I think it's different depending on what it is you do, the main point of my course was confidentiality.
post #5 of 9
My state's dept. of education has a code of ethics, and all educators are required to take a course in it. Includes professionalism, harassment, discrimination, and other like topics.
post #6 of 9

I suspect that you will find that the subject will concern one's personal sense of integrity, an individual's personal rules of conduct, or, at the extreme, one's personal sense of moral values.

By way of a current high-profile example, look at the Enron situation. Compare certain executive officers who allegedly sacrificed the interests and livelihoods of lower-level employees and stockholders because of their greed, with the courageous young lady who, at risk of losing her job, blew the whistle. Here you see a dramatic contrast in ethical values.

All the best from a Texas beach,

Jim, Ann, Miss Kitty and, soon, Samwise
post #7 of 9
My massage instructor says it boils down to doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. I know in every field it has details, but I thought it was a good summary.
post #8 of 9
Originally posted by krazy kat2
My massage instructor says it boils down to doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. I know in every field it has details, but I thought it was a good summary.
Krazy Kat,

I don't think it could ever be defined any better.
post #9 of 9
That's how I used to define "maturity" for 5th graders.
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