An Ethics Quiz for Business Leaders

I remember being a fresh college graduate and on the job in my first manager role. I was travelling on an overnight trip and on my way into breakfast, I bought a newspaper. I had missed reading the one I’d paid for already that was languishing on my doorstep at home, so it seemed quite justified that I would expense the one I bought that morning at Denny’s. A week later my expense report was paid, minus .25 cents for my newspaper. Newspapers were clearly NOT expensible in my company! Of course, I thought to myself, I could just throw in another $1.00 to my tip account! Who would notice $1 dollar in the midst of hundreds?! I had a .25 cent ethical dilemma on my hands.

Photo by Pablo Garcia Saldaña on Unsplash

Photo by Pablo Garcia Saldaña on Unsplash

How about a few bigger ethical dilemmas? Ready? Here we go. What do you do with these issues?

If your friend was fired from their last job, should you point that out on a reference call you receive?

Should you retaliate against someone by not promoting them if they refuse a corporate move to another city?

Should you fire an employee who was drunk on the job?

Should you discipline someone for stealing from the company?

What do you do with a Christian employee who is taking company time to share their faith but their unit is always off budget?

If you are a follower of Christ and biblical teaching, and are asked to work on a project that violates your beliefs, should you dive in anyway since you need the job?

An un-married co-worker suggests dinner with you while you’re both out of town on business for the company and staying in the same hotel. Should you accept?

What is ethics anyway? A set of rules you create? A set of commands you adhere to because of your faith? Could it be that ethics has its roots in the character of an infinite being? It seems clear that you and I can’t simply create the rules as we go along in life. If there’s no line, we end up with it being OK to cook the books to save taxes or use the company credit card to put gas in our car or even enter a massage parlor while telling our spouse we were at a business dinner. There has to be some kind of plumb line that’s always clear and true no matter what the circumstances.

Christian ethics experts note that ethics must have its underpinnings in the character of an ethical moral being. As an example, God is a God who exhibits the character trait of justice. That’s why we should be just in our leadership not simply because of a set of rules we make up. Kindness, fairness, forgiveness, humility, compassion and love would all follow as Godly character traits we should mirror in our leadership. Good ethics is always good business and its roots are in the character of God.

For a deeper exploration and reading on this topic, Convene recommends “Beyond Integrity: A Judeo-Christian Approach to Business Ethics”, By Dr. Scott Rae

For a video briefing on Ethics in the Workplace, I recommend Dr. Scott Rae’s lecture at Talbot Seminary