(This article has originally appeared at MSN India website)
Have you thought about this question, once or often? If yes then what follows may make sense to you.
I hear people saying that they are socially responsible. They support community causes, volunteer and campaign for them. My question to them often is "Are you ethical ?" Since being ethical is an integral part of being socially responsible.
Now the question of being ethical can be baffling. I am sure it baffles you. It certainly baffles me.
The reason is that the word Ethics in itself is so flexible. Infact Ethics is your ethics like myMSN page.
Ethics is your belief about what you think is right or wrong? Right or wrong is further dependent on your personal experience, education, family and religious backgrounds.
Then how do I know I am ethical?
The key here is to demonstrate Integrity to your beliefs. If you do that then you are ethical.
An honest answer (and not a survey-monkey response) to 4 key questions may help you in knowing that:
1. Do you make decisions based on what is good for greatest number of people?
2. Do you promote individual self-interest as long as it does not harm others?
3. Do you make decisions with a belief that everyone has a fundamental right that should be respected and protected?
4. Do you make decisions that treat everyone fairly and consistently?
The debate on ethics can be intense whenever done. What the above does is provide a simplified check-list for people who want to be ethical and hence socially responsible.