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12/11/2008
09:51 AM
Rob Preston
Rob Preston
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More On Ethics And Morals

In response to my recent column on ethics and morals, I received a note from Michael Josephson, principal of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, whose survey of high schoolers I referenced in the column. That survey's main findings: A majority of students said they had cheated on a test within the past year; 30% admitted to having stolen from a store; 23%

In response to my recent column on ethics and morals, I received a note from Michael Josephson, principal of the Josephson Institute of Ethics, whose survey of high schoolers I referenced in the column. That survey's main findings: A majority of students said they had cheated on a test within the past year; 30% admitted to having stolen from a store; 23% said they had stolen from a parent or other relative; yet 93% said they were satisfied with their own ethics and character.Josephson invites adults to take a version of that survey here. It takes only 5 or 10 minutes.

I received some interesting e-mail feedback on that column. Here are a few salient responses:

"I think the confusion today comes from the fact that our society's quest for tolerance and acceptability has led us to become less judgmental and more accepting of any behavior that goes against the traditional concept of ethical or moral behavior. Instead of basing our behavior on a set of reasoned, logical standards, we are basing our standards on our behavior -- behavior which is becoming increasingly self-serving, self-centered, and narcissistic."

"I find it disturbing that you should have to tell a recruiter, or anyone for that matter, that you want to hire an ethical person. This should be a given. It shouldn't have to be part of the job description. This is just about as absurd as an ethics policy, which is popular among government entities. Common sense is usually a good indicator whether something is ethical or not. If someone in HR or recruiting, or even a hiring manager, doesn't understand the importance of hiring an ethical person, maybe they shouldn't be involved in the hiring or management process."

"Although I have only been out of college 2 years now and do not work in a huge corporation, I can see a few things straightaway. I wholeheartedly agree with the online commenter that ethics and morals should be a major factor in any job. However, thus far in my limited career, it seems that far too many companies pay no attention to either of these traits and instead look at what it will do for the bottom line. Is it any wonder why such numbers come out of the Josephson Institute, when the only thing the children are experiencing is a reward for performance no matter the path? Who gets the biggest bonus? The guy who made the company the most money! It is no wonder that other countries have passed us up in math and science! When something gets tough, Americans would rather make excuses and rationalize any shortcomings by making it someone else's fault. (It is the fault of society because the kids are under more pressure these days.)"

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