“Leadership has an ethical core, and ethics means not just making good decisions, but leading others in making good decisions.”
– Chris MacDonald, Founding Director of the Jim Pattison Ethical Leadership Education & Research Program
Last year, the corporate world was rocked by the Volkswagen scandal. A company that most thought of as being among the most responsible corporate citizens appeared to have intentionally cheated not only public environmental laws, but consumers and the marketplace.
This situation, and others like it (Enron, Martha Stewart, Ford, etc.), tells us that ethics can be compromised at any time in the workplace. It demonstrates how ethics is often only considered in terms of staying within enforced rules or violating the rules without getting caught, rather than doing the right thing.
Ethics plays an important role in developing trust, transparency and greater confidence in how we conduct business. The Real Estate Institute of Canada’s Ethics in Business Practice course addresses ethical dilemmas commonly faced by today’s real estate industry professionals, and teaches strategies for resolving ethical dilemmas and adherence to the REIC Code of Standards along with other industry codes.
“Quite often, we have the right to take certain actions, but we have to ask ourselves whether it’s the right thing to do,” says REIC faculty member Gareth Jones.
The course challenges students to ask themselves the following questions when faced with a decision:
- Is my response, reaction and decision balanced and fair? Have I rationalized my decision, showing respect to all parties involved?
- Is my decision legal? Does it comply with all existing codes of ethics, laws, policies and professional standards?
- How will this decision make me feel about myself?
These questions act as a methodology of arriving at the right decision. “We find that we can rationalize a lot of our decisions, but what we neglect to demonstrate is respect to all parties involved in the decision,” adds Jones.
Ethics and values are a cornerstone of REIC credential programs. The Ethics in Business Practice course creates discussion and dialogue around doing the right thing. It highlights the slippery slope of fuzzy ethics. The course deals extensively with ethical codes and management issues, and at the completion of the course, professionals will have acquired the tools and strategies necessary to maintain strict ethical standards in a business setting. Students say that while taking the course, they learn more about ethics and human behaviour beyond what they expected to. They especially enjoy the discussions and learning from other students’ perspectives.
Making sound ethical decisions ensures you are acting in the best interest of all parties involved. A reputation built on trust – whether on an individual or corporate level – pays dividends in customer loyalty and business referrals. As an industry, it’s in everyone’s best interest to strive for higher business ethics and learn more about ethical decision-making.