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  • Writer's pictureMelanie Reinersman

Ethical Behaviors: The right actions are always right.

Updated: May 27, 2020

“If a tree falls in a forest…” is an old joke about philosophy, integrity and a lot more. But it is no joke in the working world. Employers and employees may not realize how many times that tree falls and a decision must be made. The definition of a “right” decision includes not only an ethical thought process but equally ethical actions every single time. ~ David M. Reile, Ph.D.

Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash

FOCUS ON: Acting Ethically and Setting Standards

Do you lead by doing the right thing? How about by encouraging others to think about what kind of people they want to be? Whether you are a business leader, a parent, a counselor, or a volunteer, you should be thinking about ethics in terms of formal roles and daily activities you undertake. You can set the stage for ethical behavior by creating clear boundaries, asking the right questions and taking responsibility. Read more from the Markula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.


Ethics are dynamic in the sense that they must change to keep up with the times. Many organizations are updating their Code of Ethics to include current issues such as the ethical use of social media. Be sure your professional behaviors are up-to-date by reading/following the ACA 2014 Code of Ethics and the 2015 NCDA Code of Ethics.

TOP TEN: Ethical lessons

“Look Before You Leap” is the first lesson – and a rather obvious one. But what does lesson number 5 mean: “You are Not an All-Knowing Robin Hood.” View all ten in this 2013 slideshow handout from the National Association of School Psychologists convention. All psychologists, counselors, and practitioners could benefit from this detailed discussion of ten ethical lessons.


Because it is an exchange relationship, i.e., a transaction, ghostwriting is assumed to fairly represent the named author and the content has received approval. In the scholarly community, if the original author is not the named author, trust is undermined by this unethical activity. Read more about the issues of rights and permissions when ghostwriting in “The Ethics of Authorship” in Inside Higher Ed.

JOB SEARCHING: Is There a Culture of Ethics?

Job seekers may want to pointedly look for an ethical workplace when making a decision about a new job. An ethical culture may seem abstract, but the job seeker could look for corporate value statements, ethical codes, and obvious priorities given to fair procedures, pay equity, employee rights, compassion, tolerance, loyalty, respect for the law… Read more about the effects of neglecting ethics (such as high turnover, low productivity/profit) from the Society for Human Resource Management.


Reading about ethics is about as likely to improve one’s behavior as reading about sports is to make one into an athlete. - Mason Cooley
Ethical axioms are found and tested not very differently from the axioms of science. Truth is what stands the test of experience. - Albert Einstein


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