March 06, 2009

Ethics: Mine or Ours?

"Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others."

Groucho Marx

It occurs to me that I've never had a boss who told me what his/her principles were.

I have worked in companies that made public pronouncements regarding company morals and the like but no bosses who made clear public statements regarding their personal ethics.

Come to think of it, neither did I when I was the boss.

Should each manager clearly state how they feel on issues of ethics or should it all be a combined statement of company values assumed to be endorsed by all who work there?


  1. Interesting question.

    And I can't recall a boss who told me what he believed in either although most every company I've worked for had a list of "good things" we all supposedly stood for and believed in. I say supposedly because we didn't always act as though we did.

    I would prefer to know what each individual thinks but that probably isn't practical, and I can't imagine anyone admitting that they would do whatever it takes to get ahead no matter how wrong it might be, which is exactly what many do.

  2. Asking everyone to state their personal belief system isn't practical nor probably even legal (to ask). So we're left with the corporate "values" statement so many companies use; the one that once written and hung on the wall hear HR, is never thought of again.

  3. i agree with edmund that a lot of companies establish 'mission statements', 'core values', etc but don't really do anything to espouse or reinforce them.

    having said that, i've had the good fortune of working for a company that had a list of principles that they followed religiously. it's certainly not possible to gain 100% compliance but when you have people from up and down the organization constantly talking about and referring to the principles, you quickly understand that they're not just words on a sheet of paper but that the company is serious about them.