Personal Ethics Development

PHL/323 – Personal Ethics Development

My core of my personal ethics system has fundamentally remained the same throughout my life, but it does continuously develop and evolve based on my past experiences and decisions. I attribute my underlying ethical system to the same values I learned as a child from my family.

The primary principles of the ethic system I practice today has benefited from past mistakes and also shaped by mentors as well as failed mentors. When good Business Ethics: Ethical Decision Making & Cases are applied to an organization, they go a long way toward providing longevity for the company.

Duty-based and consequentialism are my main underlying ethical systems, with duty-based being the more dominant. “A moral obligation or commitment to act in a certain manner, with clear right and wrong being determined by an outside authority” (University of Phoenix, 2013). An example of how I am duty-based in my value system would be when I joined the Army. I had been laid off at work, and for the first time I was having trouble finding a job.

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I have always felt a strong need to take care of my family. I was a little unsure about joining the Army, but I felt that I was morally responsible to provide. I could have gone on unemployment and applied for food stamps, which would have been a much easier route. The entitlement based system just feels wrong, and I would not be a good example to my children had I opted for the free hand out. What is worse, is if I accepted the welfare then that would take away resources from the system and somebody who truly needs the help and is unable to help themselves.

Consequentialism is also known as a goal based ethical belief system where the focus is on the future and how to be best prepared for what tomorrow brings. “Many ethicists call this type of ethical approach goal-based, because the people who practice this type of ethics approach believe there is an intricate design to the universe, and their goal is to achieve the most perfect society possible” (University of Phoenix, 2013).

I subscribe to this system mainly since it seems logical to me that if a persons actions are correct, then the results tend to be favorable also. I can tangibly see results by setting short and long-term goals for simple tasks or complex projects while at work. The person and place who shaped my view and led me to develop goal-based ethics was my former mentor, John, who was my boss at an online advertising company I once worked at. I had always believed if you work very hard then you will be rewarded accordingly.

It was John who led by example, and showed me that you need to set goals in order to get anything. With a constant focus on the future, and different goals for different scenarios, it was almost magical to watch John turn ideas into reality. I was fortunate enough to also have a terrible mentor, and learn that going after goals no matter what the outcome or harm to others is the wrong answer.

For a brief time a partners with a former co-worker on a project that soon became a thriving business. My co-worker, Murray, had more knowledge in the industry that I did at the time, so on more than one occasion I would defer to his expertise. It turned out that was a bad idea. His thirst for profits was so bad, his goal of reaching $50,000 in sales was right in front of him but he could not wait.

He took a major short cut by accepting payment form the advertisers, but not paying the publishers what was truly owed to them for each sale. This created a scenario where we had unrealistic profits and angry publishers. The project crashed just as fast as it rose, and Murray lost all respect in the online advertising industry. This was a great example for me of what a good mentor is not, and reaffirmed how important it is to think in terms of the long term in business and in my personal life.

One potential effect of my ethical beliefs in the workplace environment is the unique data records we have gathered. We considered buying the data that we present to our consumers, but we choose to take the longer, harder route of gathering and collecting the data ourselves. Almost 5 years later, the valuation of our business is much greater than if we just had the same information and data as our competitors.

Focusing on the long-term outcome has had a great beneficial effect on the company. With duty-based being my main ethical system, it is not surprising I am an employer who provides healthcare for my employees. I understand if they do not want to participate in the company health care plan, but it is available if they need it. Society deems it appropriate to provide health care for employees, and I agree. In many ways I am responsible for my employees, even though I also feel that they are ultimately responsible for themselves.

Ethics are needed in business, and businesses are constantly revising their underlying ethical systems. British Petroleum is a terrific example of a business that has had to take a closer look at their ethics policy. Randall  (2010), “Ten years ago, BP began rebranding itself. No longer British Petroleum, it was to be “Beyond Petroleum”, with lower-case initials to show the world it was the corporation that was non-corporate, consumer-friendly, self-effacing, even.”

After the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the investigations began. It became clear that profits and keeping costs low were far more important than the safety of workers. The outcome was death for some, for others they lost businesses and lively hoods that were dependent on the Louisiana coast. The effect that BP’s ethical business policies had on nature, wildlife and surrounding ecosystems is still being felt today.

In the end, even though my ethics fundamentally have remained consistent since childhood, events and people in my life have had an influence on my ethical belief system. The duty-based core principle is derived from how my family behaved and raised me as a youngster. John had a positive impact on me, reinforcing how important it is to build toward the future.

I had an example of how not to behave in Murray, who taught me that goals are important, but it is more important to reach them in an ethical manner or not at all. Ethic are needed to reign in companies such as BP that can have a major impact on peoples lives and the environment, when engaging in unethical business practices.


Randall, D. (2010). Oil spill disaster: The guilty parties. Retrieved from The BP Oil Spill (True Books: Disasters) by Scholastic

University of Phoenix. (2013). Introduction to Ethics for UOPX Students. Retrieved from Ethics: A Very Short Introduction by Oxford University Press

University of Phoenix. (2013). Key Terms. Retrieved from University of Phoenix, PHL323 website.

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