How we react to unethical actions and behaviour

21 03 2007

There are a number of reasons why individuals and organizations refuse to perform in an ethical manner or raise their voice against unethical behaviour.

6 Reasons why we don’t object to unethical actions or behaviour.

1. Ignored and Ostracized. We will be eliminated from the “group”. Showing opposition to an idea that was created by someone with power or the power of persuasion can result in being ignored and left out of future decision-making.

2. Fear. Not on board with the company philosophy? You might get fired. Fear of unfavorable personal consequences.

3. Demoted. Will lose power, prestige, and income if you speak up or oppose the idea or practice.

4. Insecurity. Perhaps we are not sure if the means justify the ends. Inability to clearly see the situation as unethical or wrong.

5. Reward. We see a payoff (money, power, prestige) that overwhelms our sense of ethics. Justifying wrong in order to receive personal gain.

6. Lazy or uncommitted. Unwilling or unable to challenge the group or idea.

5 Reasons why we should speak up and question unethical actions or behaviour.

1. Be true to yourself. Stand up for your own beliefs.

2. Be a leader. Others in the group might believe the same thing, but are timid or afraid of voicing objections. Create a dialogue and open a discussion of the issues.

3. New point of view. The group might not have thought of the consequences, or not see the situation as an ethics related decision. Open their eyes.

4. Protect the organization. Your intervention might save the organization from scandal, embarrassment, legal and financial problems.

5. Clarify. If you are unsure, voice your concerns and let the group present their case in order to clarify and resolve any doubts that you might have.

Related Links

Is your company noble, moral, ethical or virtuous

Sales and marketing terrorism 

Corruption, bribes, mordidas and tips – Doing business in Mexico

Where do you draw the line



7 responses

22 03 2007

That is definitely true. They’re mostly scared of getting fired from doing such things. They should stand out for themselves. The company can’t fire an employee without a just cause. If what you are going to do will not be a just cause for you to fired, then speak out. Sometimes we need to take risks for the wellness of the group.

22 03 2007

I also have that thought. You can’t risk getting fired for some opinion that you hold firm. Sometimes it’s hard because you can’t express what you really feel.
Your post really stands out in giving the choice of doing what is best. I think that I should start standing up for myself.

27 03 2007
Marketers beware « Lee Iwan, Accumulated Experience

[…] How we react to unethical actions and behaviour […]

27 03 2007

Thank you very much for that post. I was scammed by the president of the local Kiwanis club, in one of the oldest tricks in the universe, and only because people have kept their mouths shut for too long.

(“All it takes for evil to thrive is that good people do nothing”” –Edmund Burke)

It’s nice to know that there’s a little bit of honesty left somewhere.

2 05 2007
Cheating and advanced business education « Lee Iwan Accumulated Experience

[…] How we react to unethical actions and behaviour […]

20 09 2007

give me some cases of unethical behaviour by any company in malaysia……………..?

28 06 2009

I’m glad I found this website, I’m doing a paper for school on business ethics. I was given a scenario and your website really helped me.

Thank you,

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