Meaning of Ethics
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Ethics are the
that govern a
or the conducting
What is Ethics:
Ethics is a system of moral principles
They affect how people make decisions and lead
Ethics is concerned with what is good for
individuals and society, and is also described as
The term is derived from the Greek word ethos
which can mean custom, habit, character or
It is the study of morally appropriate behaviour
and decisions, and examining what should be
done. Ethics helps to mould and shape human
behaviour. It aids employees to perform their
However, ethics cannot be instilled unless we
‘practice what we preach’. Otherwise, the effect
of preaching will last only as long as a house of
Ethics covers the dilemmas:
How to live a good life?
Our rights and responsibilities
The language of right and wrong
Moral decisions- What is good & bad
Our concept of ethics have been derived
from religious, philosophy & culture
Personal ethics in the workplace
Personal ethics refers to a person's beliefs about what's right
and wrong and guides individuals in the decisions they make
both in and out of the workplace. Here we explore what
personal ethics are, why they are important, the difference
between personal and professional ethics, and common
examples of personal ethical principles.
Personal ethics refers to the set of moral values that form the character &
conduct of a person. Personal ethics also refers to the ethics that a person
identifies with in respect to people and situations that they deal with in
Personal Ethics are installed in us from Childhood itself
They are influenced by the beliefs and views of our family, religion, friends and
other who have a major impact in our life
Honesty, integrity, sense of responsibility, trustworthiness are some common
example of personal ethics
These personal ethics are learn from the childhood which are reflected in our
It is correct to say that our behavior, the decision we make, etc. are governed by
The principles of personal ethics are: Concern and respect for the autonomy
of others. Honesty and the willingness to comply with the law. Fairness and
the ability not to take undue advantage of others
Professional ethics refers to the ethics that a person must adhere to in respect
of their interactions and business dealings in their professional life.
Typically these include Honesty, Trustworthiness, Transparency,
Accountability, Confidentiality, Objectivity, Respect, Obedience to the law,
A professional code of ethics is designed to ensure employees are
behaving in a manner that is socially acceptable and respectful of one
another. It establishes the rules for behaviour and sends a message to every
employee that universal compliance is expected.
Differences between personal and professional ethics
There are a few key differences between personal
and professional ethics. The primary difference is that a
personal set of ethics refers to an individual’s beliefs and
values in any area of life, while professional ethics refers to a
person’s values within the workplace.
Some people differentiate personal and professional ethics by
viewing a personal ethical system as a personal moral code or
a person’s conscience, while professional ethics are viewed as
a set code of conduct that must be adhered to in the workplace.
DifferencebetweenProfessional Ethics and Personal Ethics
Professional Ethics Personal Ethics
Professional ethics is the code of conduct imposed on
an employee or a member of a certain profession
Personal ethics is the code of conduct that govern an
individual’s whole life
|Learned relatively later in life, specially after joining
the work force
Learned from childhood influenced by family,
religion, friends and close surroundings
Same throughout the organization or profession Differ by individuals
Associated with Law, Crime, Punishment Associated with religion, sin, virtue
Learned from Management, Team leader, Co-workers Learned from Parents, Teachers, Role Models
Professional Commitment Personal Choice
Written code of conduct Unwritten code of conduct
Examples: Punctuality, time-management,
confidentiality, transparency, etc.
Example: Honesty, openness, integrity, sincerity, etc.
Ethics – 6 Basic Ethical Principles:
Beneficence, Least Harm, Autonomy, Non-Violence or Peace, Justice
Principle # 1. Beneficence:
The beneficence principle enunciates a fundamental principle of ethical
conduct. This essentially means doing good to others. According to this
principle, all our thoughts and actions must be directed to ensure that
others benefit from these thoughts and actions. This can be done without
much difficulty. People generally tend to care more about themselves than
others. Even small actions performed by us can be based on this principle.
As an example, consider a person parking his/her motor vehicle, a car or a
motor cycle. He/She must park the vehicle in such a way that it does not
block pedestrians walking on the road, prevent smooth flow of traffic, or
obstruct another person‘s parked vehicle. Many times, people park their
vehicle oil the road without caring about the inconvenience caused to
As another example, consider an unfortunate accident where a person has
been hit by a vehicle and the driver of that vehicle has fled. The person
has been badly injured and requires urgent help. What would you do?
Here, doing good to others would mean mitigating the injured person’s
suffering by ensuring that he/she gets immediate medical help.
Principle # 2. Least Harm:
The second ethical principle to keep in mind is that our actions must
result in the least harm to others. There can be situations where, even if
we intend to do good to others, our actions may cause some harm to them.
In such a situation, it is necessary to ensure that our actions are such that
we cause the least harm to others.
Let us consider the case of a train accident. One’s duty in such an event is
to help the injured passengers. He/She must get them out of the
compartment; help the authorities take the injured to the hospital, and so
on. On the other hand, sometimes it is seen that people use such
incidents as an opportunity to steal the belongings of the injured, hapless
Principle # 3. Autonomy:
This principle essentially states that we need to respect the autonomy of
others for performing actions. We should not impose our views on others.
This principle assumes that every person knows what is good for
himself/herself. One can also look at it from the point of view of the
person performing the action, who decides that what he/she is going to do
is good for himself/herself.
As an example, consider your own case. As a student you may have opted
for a course based on your love for the subject. On the other hand, some of
you may have taken up the course because your parents took the decision
for you. They have invaded your autonomy to take decisions about
yourself. This is a very common occurrence and many students end up
pursuing a course for which they have no aptitude or do not like.
Principle # 4. Non-Violence or Peace:
This principle has become very relevant today. Violence has now pervaded
all sections of society and has become its greatest bane. One of the basic
ethical principles is to shun violence and to not support those who resort
to it. Unless we adhere to this principle, no substantial progress can be
made in ethical behaviour.
Our greatest concern is that there is a tendency to resort to violence in
cases where many other options are available. There is also a nonchalant
attitude to violence among people. This is a major cause for concern.
In an incident, a person was killed by a group. The police could not even
investigate the case because in the violence that spread in the aftermath of
this murder, many people were killed, a large number of houses were
burnt, and hundreds were injured. In this case, there was violence for no
Principle # 5. Justice:
The principle of justice states that our actions must be such that they are fair to
everyone concerned. All ethical decisions must be based on the principle of
fairness. There can be situations where a deviation from past practice is
required. All such cases must be analysed and justified before a decision
different from earlier decisions is made.
For example, consider the many development-induced displacements that make
headlines in the newspapers these days. The building of a dam, the requirement
of a weapon-testing ground, the need for a nuclear power plant, or the need for
an expressway might necessitate displacement of a community to clear land for
such a purpose.
If you take the specific case of a dam, it is a necessary part of infrastructure
development as it provides water for irrigation and electric power generation.
The construction of a dam is, thus, for the common good of a large section of the
society. However, thousands of people are displaced from their land and their
means of livelihood threatened because of such a project.
Principle # 6. Truthfulness:
Truthfulness is the quality of telling, adhering to, or upholding the truth.
This appears to be a universal principle. Truthfulness also leads to other
values such as trustworthiness and honesty. Mahatma Gandhi highlighted
this principle when he undertook the freedom struggle and named it
Satyagraha, desire for truth.
We will seldom find an example where not telling the truth gets us any
real benefit. In the Upanishads, it is said asato ma sat gamaya, meaning
‘lead me from falsehood to truth’. Truthfulness is thus a universal principle
propounded by all religious texts. In engineering measurements, it is
mentioned that the true value of a quantity is not known.
What is an Ethical Dilemma?
An ethical dilemma (ethical paradox or moral dilemma) is a problem in
the decision-making process between two possible options, neither of
which is absolutely acceptable from an ethical perspective. Although we
face many ethical and moral problems in our lives, most of them come
with relatively straightforward solutions.
On the other hand, ethical dilemmas are extremely complicated
challenges that cannot be easily solved. Therefore, the ability to find the
optimal solution in such situations is critical to everyone.
There are three conditions that must be present for a situation to be
considered an ethical dilemma.
The first condition occurs in situations when an individual, called the
“agent,” must make a decision about which course of action is best.
Situations that are uncomfortable but that don’t require a choice, are not
ethical dilemmas. For example, students in their internships are required
to be under the supervision of an appropriately credentialed social work
field instructor. Therefore, because there is no choice in the matter, there
is no ethical violation or breach of confidentiality when a student
discusses a case with the supervisor.
The second condition for ethical dilemma is that there must be different
courses of action to choose from.
Third, in an ethical dilemma, no matter what course of action is taken,
some ethical principle is compromised. In other words, there is no perfect
In determining what constitutes an ethical dilemma, it is necessary to
make a distinction between ethics, values, morals, and laws and policies.
Ethics are prepositional statements (standards) that are used by members
of a profession or group to determine what the right course of action in a
situation is. Ethics rely on logical and rational criteria to reach a decision,
an essentially cognitive process.
Values, on the other hand, describe ideas that we value or prize. To value
something means that we hold it dear and feel it has worth to us. As such,
there is often a feeling or affective component associated with values.
Often, values are ideas that we aspire to achieve, like equality and social
Morals describe a behavioural code of conduct to which an individual
ascribes. They are used to negotiate, support, and strengthen our
relationships with others.
Finally, laws and agency policies are often involved in complex cases,
and social workers are often legally obligated to take a particular course of
How to Solvean Ethical Dilemma?
The biggest challenge of an ethical dilemma is that it does not offer an obvious
solution that would comply with ethics al norms. Throughout the history of
humanity, people have faced such dilemmas, and philosophers aimed and
worked to find solutions to them.
The following approaches to solve an ethical dilemma were deduced:
1. Refute the paradox (dilemma): The situation must be carefully analyzed. In
some cases, the existence of the dilemma can be logically refuted.
2. Value theory approach: Choose the alternative that offers the greater good or
the lesser evil.
3. Find alternative solutions: In some cases, the problem can be reconsidered,
and new alternative solutions may arise.
In order to solve ethical problems organizations should develop strict ethical
standards for their employees. Organizations must demonstrate its concerns
regarding the ethical norms within the organization. In addition, ethical training
for their employees may be provided.
As the purchase officer in an organization, an engineer has to choose between
many options in purchasing a particular item. Quite often it is not the lowest
price that matters but many other conditions, such as purchase agreement and
long term benefits. On a festive occasion, one of the suppliers comes with sweets
and gifts for the engineer.
The supplier directly does not tell the engineer to select his item for purchase
but gives the gift to him. Is it morally right to accept the gift? The engineer feels
that it is just a normal gesture during the festive season as he knows him well
and has had long discussions with him about products.
The engineer feels that his decision to purchase any product is not going to be
decided by this gift given by the supplier. However, he is concerned about the
situation he is in. The supplier does not give him these gifts for nothing; he
expects that he will consider his product favourably and find reasons to bypass
lower tenders. Now, there is a ethical dilemma.
A young lawyer working for a law firm is asked to take up the case of a
client who has come with the case details. The lawyer listens to what the
client has to say. He studies the case in detail and finds that the client has
no case at all as per existing laws. He reports the matter to his superior
and says that they should not take up the case as they would not win it.
His superior is not satisfied and tells him that their duty is to fight the
case for their clients to the best extent possible. The superior orders him
to take up the case, find any loopholes in the law that can help, and fight
the case as best as they can. The client has promised a considerable sum if
the case is won, in addition to the normal fee.
The young lawyer feels the dilemma that duty calls for taking up the case,
while his conscience pricks him as the chances of winning the lawsuit are
extremely dim. What should he do?
INTOSAI Code of Ethics is intended to constitute a
foundation for the national Codes of Ethics,
Accordingly each Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) has
the responsibility to ensure that all its auditors
acquaint themselves with the values and principles
contained in the national Code of Ethics and act
accordingly. Due to national differences of culture,
language, and legal and social systems, it is the
responsibility of each SAI to develop its own Code of
Ethics, which best fits its own environment.
Therefore it has been decided to adopt a Code of
Ethics for the organization of the Comptroller and
Auditor General of India. The Code of Ethics
incorporates the values and principles contained in the
Central Civil Services Conduct Rules for Government
Servants in India (CCS Conduct Rules) and adapting
the broad principles contained in ISSAI 30 (INTOSAI
Standards for Supreme Audit Institutions), issued by
The Professional Standards Committee.
It is of fundamental importance that the SAI is looked upon with
trust, confidence and credibility. The auditor promotes this by
adopting and applying the ethical requirements of the concepts
embodied in the key principles - Integrity, Independence and
Objectivity, Confidentiality and Competence.
The conduct of auditors should be beyond reproach at all times
and in all circumstances.
Any deficiency in their professional conduct or any improper
conduct in their personal life places the integrity of auditors, the
SAI India, and the quality and validity of their work in an
unfavorable light, and may raise doubts about the reliability and
competence of the SAI itself.
The adoption and application of a Code of Ethics for auditors in
the public sector promotes trust and confidence in the auditors
and their work.
Integrity is the core value of a Code of Ethics. The integrity of
auditors establishes trust and thus provides the basis for reliance on
their judgment. In order to sustain public confidence, the conduct
of auditors should be above suspicion and reproach.
Requirements at the level of SAI
The SAI shall emphasise, demonstrate, support and promote
The SAI shall ensure that the internal environment is
conducive for staff to raise ethical breaches.
Independence, Objectivity and Impartiality
The general standards for the auditor and the SAI include
independence from the legislature and independence from the
executive. Independence from the audited entity and other
outside interest groups is indispensable for auditors. This
implies that auditors should adhere to their independence.
Requirements at the level of SAI
The SAI shall be independent as regards its status, mandate, reporting, and
management autonomy. The SAI shall have full discretion in the discharge of its
functions. This independence shall be prescribed by an appropriate and effective
constitutional, legal and regulatory framework. The SAI shall adopt policies for
its independent and objective functioning.
The SAI shall establish a framework to enable the identification of significant
threats to independence and objectivity, and the application of controls to
mitigate them, as well as provide guidance and direction for staff in this respect.
The SAI shall adopt policies to ensure that audit staff, particularly at senior level,
do not develop relationships to audited entities that may put their
independence or objectivity at risk.
The SAI shall not provide advisory or other non-audit services to an auditee,
where such services would include assuming management responsibilities.
Requirements at the level of SAI staff
SAI staff shall be free of impairments to independence and objectivity, whether real or
perceived, that result from political bias, participation in management, self-review,
financial or other personal interest, or relationships with, or undue influence from,
others. For this purpose SAI staff shall:
maintain independence from political influence and be free from political bias;
not be involved in the auditee management’s decision-making;
not audit their own work;
avoid auditing entities in which they have recently been employed, without appropriate
avoid circumstances where personal interests could impact decision making;
avoid circumstances where relationships with the management or personnel of the auditee or
other entities could impact decision-making;
refuse gifts, gratuities or preferential treatment that could impair independence or
SAI staff shall identify possible threats and situations in which their independence or
objectivity may be impaired.
SAI staff shall inform the management about any pre-existing relevant relationships
and situations that may present a threat to independence or objectivity.
Conflict of Interest
The SAI has to discharge his mandate freely and impartially,
taking management views into consideration in forming audit
opinions, conclusions and recommendations, but owing no
responsibility to the management of the audited entity for the
scope or nature of the audits undertaken. Thus conflict of
interest must be avoided.
Auditors shall be prudent in the use and protection of
information acquired in the course of their duties. They should
not disclose information obtained in the auditing process to
third parties, either orally or in writing, except for the purposes
of meeting the SAI’s statutory or other identified
responsibilities as part of the SAI’s normal procedures or in
accordance with relevant laws. Auditors shall not use
information in any manner that would be contrary to the law or
detrimental to the legitimate and ethical objectives of the SAI.
Auditors should know and follow applicable auditing, accounting, and financial
management standards, policies, procedures and practices. Likewise, they must
possess a good understanding of the constitutional, legal and institutional principles
and standards governing the operations of the audited entity.
Requirements at the level of SAI staff
SAI staff shall perform their job in accordance with applicable standards and with
SAI staff shall act in accordance with the requirements of the assignment,
carefully, thoroughly and on a timely basis.
SAI staff shall maintain and develop their knowledge and skills to keep up with
the developments in their professional environment in order to perform their job
Auditors have a duty to conduct themselves in a professional
manner at all times and to apply high professional standards in
carrying out their work to enable them to perform their duties
competently and with impartiality. Auditors should exercise
due professional care in conducting and supervising the audit
and in preparing related reports.
The SAI should adopt policies and procedures to recruit personnel with
suitable qualifications and train them professionally. The SAI should
establish, and regularly review, minimum training requirements for the
appointment of auditors at each level within the organisation. It should take
adequate steps to provide for continuing professional development of its
Requirements at the level of SAI
The SAI shall be aware of the standard of professional behaviour expected
by its stakeholders, as defined by the laws, regulations and conventions of
the society in which they operate, and conduct their business accordingly
and in line with their mandate.
The SAI shall assist staff in adhering to that standard