The press today is replete with examples in both the private and public sectors of situations where leaders who consider themselves ethical, make unethical choices or are found in compromising situations.
Many times people convicted in these cases are convinced their choices were business decisions and not ethical decisions. Why is this the case? More than simply a legal or moral responsibility, ethics need to become an organizational priority.
Organizational leaders have a lot on their minds in today’s highly competitive world. They must keep abreast of rapid technological advancements, competitor’s products and services, the effects of globalization, and opportunities and threats within their own industry, to name the most obvious. Leaders must also keep a constant eye on the mission, vision, values, culture, strategy and goals of their own organizations.
In the midst of all of this complexity, it’s not easy to find room on the organizational plate for another major priority. However, to succeed in the 21st century, organizations will have to figure out how to make ethics a priority. As an organizational priority, ethics will not only affect decision-making but also, and ultimately, institutional culture. To achieve this ideal, there must be an alignment process that integrates business ethics with mission, vision, values, strategies and goals.