Questions for Ethical Review of Staff, Volunteers

Currently enrolled as an MBA student, I've had two courses wherein ethics are of central consideration. Trouble is, both courses have presented personal ethics as "a moving target," offering the student the opportunity to self-design a personal code of ethics based on whatever standard one chooses, or no standard at all. In other words, higher education is not in the business of promoting ethical absolutes.

For practical purposes, these academic discussions are interesting but useless. They also smack at my personal belief that there are, indeed, absolute standards to which we are called. While I will not claim perfect knowledge of these Absolute Truths, I do believe they exist and that we are expected to practice their tenets.

Thus, with all of the flaws of a human response and little of the philosopher's style, I have designed 12 questions for self-examination by nonprofit professionals, board members and other volunteers / stakeholders. These questions are not for organizations, but for the individuals serving through these organizations. The inquiries are not about organizational policy or promotion of a particular social agenda; rather, they are questions to ask ourselves, every day in our every dealing.

It is my hope that this list "calls" you to an exemplary level of personal integrity and self-expectation, or simply confirms your current behavior. Credit to several sources, including United Way of America, Rotary International, Independent Sector and The Bible.

1. As a minimum, do I comply with all local/state/federal/international laws, any licensing requirements of my position/organization, and any ethical standards set by the appropriate trade associations?

2. Do my actions honor the spirit of the work of our organization and other nonprofit organizations - programmatically, administratively and fiscally?

3. Do I refuse to engage in or tolerate any fraud, misuse, abuse or waste of agency resources?

4. Do I solicit or accept inappropriate gratuities, gifts or favors? If receiving monetary compensation, do I provide a fair level and output of work for wages received?

5. Do I treat those with whom I am in professional contact as I wish to be treated? as they would be treated?

6. Do I refuse to engage in or tolerate unfairness, unkindness, favoritism and harassment directed at anyone involved in my organization?

7. Do I respect and honor the dignity of the co-workers, supervisors, volunteers, clients and other stakeholders within my organization? Do I objectively consider others' thoughts and opinions, whether or not the views presented agree with mine?

8. Do I act with respect towards other nonprofits, governmental entities and businesses engaged in the life of the community?

9. Do I respect and seek out the truth, avoiding misrepresentation in putting forth any and all information?

10. Do I hold confidential and private all agency, client, employee or other information that can be reasonably deemed off-limits to others?

11. Do I display a commitment to this organization beyond myself, placing the interest of the organization and its constituencies, rather than my own, foremost in my professional or volunteer dealings?

12. Do my motives and actions promote public confidence in philanthropic institutions?

Strong Leaders / Strong Stories

Strong leaders have strong stories, and a solid sense of "self" as a leader.  But too often, even strong women view themselves or are perceived as being very good at "getting things done," but not as valuable strategic resources. What can you do to change this?  Find Out More Here