Understanding ethical issues.

Author:Nicholson, Natasha
Position:From the editor - Column

Why do I need to learn about ethics? The very idea of educating ourselves about ethics brings up emotions that hit our core. The fact is that it doesn't take an unethical person to get caught in an ethical dilemma. And it may not be obvious that the issue we're tackling is even related to ethics. In talking with people who have studied this area of communication, I've tried to understand what I myself need to do to stay aware and mindful. Here are the first questions I ask myself.

I thought you might find them useful as well.

  1. Am I familiar with and following my organization's code of ethics, policies and guidelines? These documents help us to understand what our organization expects from us. IABC has a strong Code of Ethics on its web site. It's designed for communicators, but it is based on principles that might apply to business professionals anywhere in the world. The hope is that you are not only familiar with your organization's code of ethics and policies, but that you also have a hand in ensuring that they are clear to you and others.

  2. Am I aware and listening to concerns raised by others about my conduct? It can feel dreadful to have someone question your conduct. It may be hard to see that having something like this brought to our attention is incredibly helpful. An ethical dilemma creates a cloudy vision. Having the benefit of a trusted colleague's perspective can help us see more clearly.

  3. Conversely, if I see an ethical situation brewing in my organization, am I sharing my concerns? What a challenge this...

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