As I get ready to teach Code of Ethics on Friday, the 13th, I reflect back on what I learned about ethics from my MPA program.
Ethics is a subject that applies to our business dealings as REALTORS®, but it is also at the root of our moral character as individuals, parents, and leaders. NAR established the REALTORS® Code of Ethics based on the fundamental golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. The Golden Rule falls under duty theory in the family of normative ethics, but did you know there are actually three theories that guide our moral conduct?
- Duty Theory: Basically what NAR says…Avoid wronging others, treat people as equals, and promote the good of others. According to Kant’s categorical imperative, treat people as an end, not as a means to an end.
- Virtue Theory places less emphasis on learning rules, and instead stresses the importance of developing good habits of character. Plato describes cardinal virtues as wisdom, courage, temperance and justice. Other important virtues are fortitude, generosity, self-respect, good temper, and sincerity. Aristotle believed that virtues are good habits that we attain.
- Consequentialist Theory: An action is morally right if the consequences of that action are more favorable than unfavorable. Utilitarianism falls in this category – do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Think criminal justice – in other words if you don’t act ethically, there will be consequences!
From Donald Menzel’s Ethics Management for Public Administrators, here are a few integrity building tips for you, your staff, and even your children:
- Take risks to oppose unjust acts (don’t just go along)
- Communicate Truthfully (don’t intentionally deceive others)
- Deal Fairly (don’t provide advantages or disadvantages because of affiliation or position)
- Honor Agreements (keep your commitments)
- Accept Personal Responsibility When Things Go Wrong
- Forgive individuals for mistakes or wrongdoing (Don’t hold grudges)
- Exhibit humility (Avoid unbridled ambition and emphasis of rank and status differences)
- Respect the dignity of individuals by giving earned recognition (don’t treat employees as simply vehicles for getting the work done)
- Celebrate the ability and good fortune of others (suppress envy)
Enjoy and Best Wishes for a successful career, and a long life well lived!
Susy Hurlbert, CEO