Ethics is the foundation of our culture. It dictates how people interact, what is acceptable and what is not. So much so it is actually taught at the collegiate level and in business schools. With the recent spotlight on the design and construction industry in regards to ethical operations, it is an opportune time for a discussion on ethics.
Pressures to perform at the highest level and consistently win work in the architecture, engineering and construction world are prevalent and growing. Competition is only getting steeper. Bringing in work directly correlates with job security. This pressure can create conflict with ethical practices.
The pressure to win projects should never outweigh a company’s commitment to ethical business practices. It is of the utmost importance to maintain your principles, avoid cutting corners or participating in foul play.
The companies and individuals who have continued success for many years are those with moral courage. It is a scary thing when you are providing for families and someone pressures you to do something questionable in order to keep the work. What do you do? Remember! Remember your obligation to the public, remember that cutting a corner is a slippery slope that can cost way more than doing the right thing. Above all, remember what you stand for is defined in these moments.
Sometimes we only realize what our values are after we contradicted them. Take time now to think about the things that are important to you, and the things that make you uncomfortable. Think about boundaries and how far you are willing to go to protect your ideals. We all have a natural human instinct to go along with a group or leader, even if we do not feel right about it, due to the sense of safety, status and belonging. You have the right to protect your ethical integrity!
Being ethical, transparent and above board in business should be a core value and expectation for each and every person. It is important to find a company and clients that value these ideals. Be sure your actions today reinforce your values and do not let your judgment be impaired by the lure of short term gains.
There is a great article from Character First the Magazine that is still very relevant five years later: “Moral Courage: Building Ethical Strength in the Workplace.” It dives into what moral courage is and how it is demonstrated. It also provides some helpful hints on how to develop your moral courage. Learn how to develop your moral courage here.
From the desk of Stu Haney, Wendel President/CEO