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Valuing Ethics

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Valuing Ethics
By Debbie Ray

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The stings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?

William Shakespeare – from Hamlet III,i, 56-61

Ethics is the practice of goodness. With the current downfalls in corporations for unethical practices, a new enthusiasm has sprung from the ashes to reincorporate ethics into the workforce. The belief is if ethics are renewed in a corporation, more ethical employees will emerge. The difference is not the morals or integrity of the employee making the ethical decision but of the environment that constitutes ethical behavior.
Do we value ethics in the workplace? I was once asked during an interview if I were a supervisor would it be more important to be surrounded by people with loyalty or people with integrity. To me it went without question that a person with integrity was much more of an asset, because without integrity, the loyalty was useless. The question had a lasting impression on me. Which was more important in my workplace?
Unethical decisions are made every day. Not only do they affect the person making the unethical decision but those around them as well, fellow employees, family members, community and the reputation of the agency. It’s hard not to think of Enron without remembering the downfall and the decisions of a few which affected many. Ethical decisions are a part of everyday life.
Working as a public servant, we have the responsibility to conduct ourselves in a responsible manner. This means that the public expects us to perform our jobs to the best of our abilities and to remain lawful and conscientious while we do it. Everything we do reflects on the agency as a whole. Ethical conduct is something the public expects from us and something that we should expect from ourselves.
Ethics training is already in the Correctional Training Department’s curriculum. However, additional resources are available, many at low or no cost to employees. Ethical decisions are a part of our everyday life; make the right choice for you.

Debbie Ray
Vice Chairperson, Advisory Council on Ethics (ACE)

For information about ACE, visit the TDCJ website or write to the Deputy Executive Director’s Office, ACE, TDCJ Admin. Room 213, P.O. Box 99, Huntsville, TX 77342-0099.

Opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of all members of ACE or the Criminal Justice Connections.

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