Cultural Values and Personal Ethics
Cultural Values and Personal Ethics
Cultural Values and Personal Ethics
As individuals, we typically develop a set of ethics and values that governs the way we operate on a personal level, then in our professional lives there is another set of ethics and values to be upheld. Postner (n.d.) notes that organizations have core values in the same way that individuals do. Occasionally, we are required carry out activities in our professional or personal lives, which are in direct conflict to our personal ethics and values. The differences in personal and professional values and ethics sometimes lead to challenging decisions, and maintaining composure or professionalism in these situations can be difficult. I will use this paper to talk about what some of my personal ethics and cultural values are, and explain how these guide decision making in my personal and professional life.
Encyclopedia Britannica Online (n.d.), defines ethics as “the discipline concerned with what is morally good and bad, right and wrong,” and culture is described by Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (n.d.) as being “the set of shared attitudes, values, goal, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” My ethics and values were developed mainly from what I was taught from birth through adulthood by my parents, the church, school, and to a lesser extent, my friends. The value system is said by Brown (2002) to be a container of all individual values, inclusive of work and cultural values. Over time, I have adopted what I consider my own personal value system, which serves as a guide in the way I operate daily. My value system is not always shared by each person I encounter; but, I accept and respect the diversity of everyone.
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From an early age, I realized (and so did my mother) that I had a strong conviction for truth and found it difficult to be untrue, regardless of my situation. Although I enjoyed the rewards, telling truth was also very costly at times, to me and my sister, since my mother used this knowledge of me to keep informed of our childhood mischief, which contributed to a few spankings. Tied closely to my strong belief in truth is the issue of trust, as I want to be trusted by those I meet; likewise, I must feel a certain trust for individuals before they can get too close to me. I therefore try to behave in a manner that conveys a message of trust and consequently, personal conduct is also important to me. Respect for others, accountability, being committed, decisiveness, honesty, credibility, doing what’s right, and integrity are all strongly valued.
I recognize that most of my value system was influenced by what was taught to me by my parents, who also had an undeniable devotion to the church, and is certainly responsible for the deeply rooted faith I now have. The church solidified and enhanced my values, and during my school years I learned to value hard work, responsibility, and punctuality. I feel compelled to note here that time is of high value to me, to the extent that I move at a fast pace, not wanting to waste any time; accordingly, I take punctuality quite seriously. My friendships over the years were developed based on my being able to find some similarities (although there were differences) between the people I met and myself, and my desire for personal growth was strengthened by these friendships. These are by no means an exhaustive list of my values, but are what I would consider to be my core set of values that my parents and family, the church, school, and friends all contributed to and helped to shape. I think that Brown (2002) best describes how my values were ultimately shaped when he noted that values are beliefs experienced that guides how we ought to function. They are developed from our evaluation of self and others in order to meet our needs in socially acceptable ways, and play a role in establishing personal goals.
Postner (n.d.) notes that our commitment to the values we believe in or the adoption of new ones should make notable improvement in our lives. I found the foregoing statement applicable to me right through high school and on into my first few years of working; not without some odd moments of discomfort, but nothing I would consider challenging. However, as I settled into the work environment and took on roles with more responsibility, I found that demands increased, and I was often faced with ethical dilemmas that tested my commitment to my values. As noted by Susan Sonnesyn (1991), there are times when business and ethics do not work together and there is difficulty in identifying appropriate business values. I found that for the most part, I held firmly to the values I felt strongly about, yet there were times when I had to find creative ways to arrive at a compromise that upheld both personal and business values. In one company I worked, they have values such as serving with honesty and integrity, which aligns with my personal beliefs. Another company felt that as a supervisor I was to disclose to upper management any confidential information I discussed with employees. Gamble and Gibson (1999) states that the choices we make are influenced by individual values, and in this particular case, my personal values did shape my decision. I thought that what was required was ethically wrong and I could not betray the trust of employees. Nonetheless, I also had the company’s trust; therefore, I decided that I would filter the information to pass on and I would also advise the employee of any part of a discussion I felt compelled to disclose.
I have found that whereas I was initially rigid in my values and personal ethics, I eventually learned to be flexible, assessing each situation as it occurred. There are still some instances when I hold firmly to my personal ethics, but I try to balance being committed to my beliefs, while effectively managing my encounters. I began my Master’s degree in a quest for knowledge, and while I do not anticipate swaying from my core ethics and values, I hope to gain new perspectives that will assist with how I handle encounters that have conflicting values.
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Retrieved March 17, 2005, from [INFOTRAC]. University of Phoenix Online.
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Retrieved March 13, 2005, from [INFOTRAC]. University of Phoenix Online.