One of the Guiding Principles of Rotary - the Object of Rotary - includes fostering high ethical standards in business and professions. On March 9 we heard from Dr. Kate Speck of the UNL Public Policy Center on the topic of Professional Ethics: Operating in an Ethical Vacuum.
We looked at the complex topic of ethics - what it is and how it affects our daily lives.
Dr. Speck mentioned that we are faced with ethical dilemmas all of the time - that we probably have been faced with a couple already today. It can be small such as deciding how to respond to a comment or complex such as making a decision about the direction of our business.
At the most basic level, ethics can be defined s moral principles that govern a person's behavior or the conducting of an activity. She suggested that if we are self-respective and treat people like we would like to be treated, we generally can make those ethical decisions quickly.
Ethics encompasses many life areas such as good vs. evil, justice vs. injustice and trust vs. mistrust. Dr. Speck spent some time discussing the four virtues of The four hinges of morality
  • Prudence - :mind - allows us to judge correctly what is right and what is wrong in any given situation
  • Temperance - emotions - helps us control our passion toward positive emotions
  • Fortitude - emotions - control our aversion toward negative emotions
  • Justice - will - choosing according to truth and fairness
A code of ethics is a guide of principles designed to help us act with honesty and integrity. It gives us a road map or framework for ethical behavior Many times a code of ethics is in place to protect us and to protect other people.
We spent some time talking about fraud and the Fraud Triangle:
  • Pressure - financial or emotional pushing a person toward fraudulent activities
  • Opportunity - ability to execute a plan without being caught
  • Rationalizing - justifying the fraudulent activity
In business we may find unethical conduct due to:
  • Lack of adequate knowledge of standard practice
  • Lack of established corporate culture
  • Inadequate mentoring
  • Unguided competition
  • Poor staff recruitment procedures
  • Poor reward system
  • Lack of necessary human capital development programs
  • Non availability of procedure manuals
Throughout the presentation, we referred to the Rotary 4-Way Test - it is our ethical code - 
1. Is it the truth?
2. Is it fair to all concerned?
3. Will it build good will and better friendships?
4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?