Before we answer the question of how to build an ethical career, we need to define what an ethical job is. As the world is moving towards a more capitalistic approach of production and lifestyle, it is not surprising to see that our career trajectories and choices are reflective of that.
During our lifetime, the early year that we dedicate so willingly to our careers, are responsible for forming our personalities and solidifying our value systems. Since this is also the age where most of us tend to start families, the same value system that we are developing will be transferred to them. Mostly by the time we reflect over how we have led our lives, there is no way to undo things.
Be Mindful Of Your Obligations
To have an ethical career and save yourself from the guilt that you might have for your professional choices, you need to be consciously and mindful of your societal obligations and think for everyone rather than just for yourself. Our opinion of ourselves is almost always righteous; after all, we are all trying to make the best decisions in whatever the circumstances are. But it is easy to lose the grip on our moral compass while competing with and for the world.
Streamline Your Thought Process
But then, one would wonder, how is it that they can make the right choices in their everyday lives. The first step that we can is developing a thought process where we realize and accept that we have the room to diverge from the right path if we don’t stay cautious. This phenomenon is categorized as moral humility. By practicing this mindset, we can help rationalize the fact that we will be faced with situations that test our ability and capacity to hold tightly to our belief and value system.
A research study conducted by HBR also mentions this terminology. It suggests a three-stage approach for people who want to do themselves ethically and build a socially responsible career trajectory.
Stage 1: Prepare yourself to be good
To practice being good, you need mentally prepare yourself to actualize that mentality into reality. Acting rightly is what we equate to being right. Having expertise in a particular subject or sport is also referred to as being excellent. However, that is not what this approach is teaching us here. Not like those aren’t things that you shouldn’t work for, but what inherently defines you and what outlines your personality is right you should seek in the long haul. To prepare yourself to be good, you should know that it won’t be an easy road—the idea of deviating from how things usually can be somewhat daunting.
Identify and Set Your Goals
Goal setting or objective identification can ease this process for you. As a working professional, you often seem to set targets and objectives that are milestones for your progress and help you remember how far you have come. But it is rare for people to think about their moral code and ethics with this lens. One doesn’t need to be careful or strenuous with the documentation, but sitting and getting the pen to appear often helps untangle thoughts for people; it is a suggestion often given by therapists so that people can completely feel whatever it is that they are feeling. Lining up how you can practice being kind and what it means to you to be “good,” you are already working on being right!
According to another HBR article, the author suggests that after he contracted cancer, the way that he measured his life’s success was by seeing how many live shad he impacted positively during his lifetime. Usually, near-death experiences also tend to cause a shift in morality and ethics for people, given that they give them the free and rather scary opportunity to reflect on who they were as people and if they wanted to be remembered like that. And thus, a reflection while we are alive, is a better way to go about things.
Additionally, once you have decided to be useful, it is healthy to let people know. Having other knows f your ethical boundaries. You shouldn’t be directly too rigid about your transformations, but you can try making them know slowly and change gradually rather than suddenly.
Stage 2: Decide Better
While we are making decisions, it can be tricky to see what the lasting consequences may be. You may be thinking that your choice is going to have a morally right implication, but it may not always be the case. It is essential to do a mental Cost Benefits analysis and measure the externalizations that your decision may create. In our day to day activities, we are often faced with choices that test our morality, and to maintain the stance of building an ethical career, you need to be more cautious about your decisions.
Select The Right Workplace
To make sure that you are staying on track, it is essential to select a workplace that places morality up on their list of priorities and values that the embed in their employees. Industries and specific sectors of the economy tend to have practices that are immoral and can be detrimental to your goals set in the above stage. It is well-advised to see the kind of work practices a place has beforehand by researching a little. The five most common signals of unethical behavior may be the misuse of time sheets, abusive behavior (verbal, mental, and physical), stretched out goals, and high levels of uncertainty. If you see these red flags, it is essential to reassess your priorities and talk this issue out with the HR or your direct line manager.
Stage 3: Frequent Reflection
The journey of being ethical and morally sound is one that is ever continuing. One can be successful in their pursuit of being right is that they think about their actions - and they think about that frequently. In Stage 1, the part where we write down goals is also helpful here. The human memory can be devious, but reflecting from the thought that you penned down can be useful to jog your memories.
Lastly, to have an ethical career is by making sure that all your actions, direct and indirect, are mirrors to the approach you have in life. You can revise the way you approach work and your relationships at your workplace, and you may realize that this transition is not as difficult as it may seem. By taking the situation in your hands and curating a moral compass of humility, and by maintaining a rational outlook towards things, one can move up an ethically sound career trajectory. With moments of daily reflections, you are bound to achieve the “good” that you are seeking to cultivate!