Ethics is the science dealing with moral principles, codes and values (Khosla & Bhagat, 2009). The name of this science derives from ancient Greek word “ethos”, which used to mean the science related to wrongness or rightness of human actions, the task of which was to understand moral values, justify moral judgments and resolve moral issues (Khosla & Bhagat, 2009). Professional ethics, in its turn, can be considered as the science dealing with ethical obligations of the professionals who have special duties and responsibilities with regard to the society and/or to their customers (Khosla & Bhagat, 2009). Professionals are expected to possess certain autonomy and power, which makes professional ethics different from occupational ethics. Often, both these types of ethics are referred to as work ethics. As it was noted above, professional ethics is based on professional values – the actions and principles guiding a professional in his or her career.
Professional values can be classified into personal, social and economic types according to the sources of these values (Khosla & Bhagat, 2009). Personal values come from an individual’s family, cultural environment and personal preferences and beliefs of this individual. Social values are created during the interactions of the individual with different social groups and institutions, and usually appear already after personal values. The reaction to peer pressure, the need for self-identification with a certain group (and thus acceptance of the rules of this group) and the values delivered by mass media are typical examples of social values. Economic values commonly come from working and educational environment, and are closely related to organizational mission and values.
It is possible to distinguish between many variants of professional ethics: health care ethics, military ethics, educational ethics, managerial ethics, ethics of professional psychologists etc. Naturally, compliance with professional code of ethics has a strong impact on an individual’s career. Such values as responsibility, commitment and integrity form the basis for any professional ethics, and without these qualities an individual will not gain appropriate reputation. For career, proper reputation and personal qualities such as diligence are of crucial importance: business partners, colleagues and bosses have to trust their professional companion. Acting unethically might bring short-term results such as excess revenue or certain career benefits, but in the long run unethical behaviors are likely to hinder career growth (Khosla & Bhagat, 2009) and to prevent other business agents from contacting unethical individual. This is especially important in the modern era of telecommunications, when it is possible to research opinion of other people using search engines and social networks. Thus, ethical behaviour is an essential condition for career growth.
Here are two examples of the importance of ethical behaviour for career growth. First of all, ethical behaviour of the employees shape the image and reputation of the organization. If, for example, managers of a retail store start acting unethically, people will soon be aware of this situation and the customers will prefer to visit the competitors’ stores. Thus, as a result of unethical behaviour the revenues of the company will decline. Moreover, if many employees exhibit such behaviour, the very existence of the organization is in danger. Hence, ethical behaviour is necessary for the functioning of an organization and for its success.
Secondly, acting ethically and consistently adds credibility to the person and to the person’s opinion. In working environment, the highest value is assigned to the ability to get job done timely and professionally. People tend to trust more responsible and important projects to their colleagues with proper reputation, known for ethical behaviour. Such people might have to work more during their career rise, but they can reach the highest positions in their career. Even for freelancers their reputation to a large extent determines their revenues and the flow of clients. In contrast, people whose behaviour is not always ethical will not reach these positions, since their environment is unlikely to trust important things to them. It is possible to conclude that professional ethical behaviour is crucially important for making a good career.
Khosla, V.R. & Bhagat, K. (2009). Human Values And Professional Ethics. Technical Publications.