Millennials Say Yes, Ethics Matter in a Career

Do ethics matter in business? For some people, ethical standards are necessarily lowered in business because they’re willing to do what it takes to make a dollar. In fact, this is even more true of subordinates who have been given a specific task by the boss. However, for others, ethics play a major role in whether or not they will comply with an order or make a business decision. While you may think that millennial workers would fall into the former category due to age and hunger for career success, a recent study suggests otherwise.

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Half of Millennials Are Very Concerned About Ethics in Business

The Deloitte Millennial Survey found that 44% of millennials surveyed have turned down job offers due to ethical concerns, and 49% of millennials have refused a work assignment due to a clash of ethics and values. While the survey did not identify what participants defined as ethical behavior, it does suggest that millennials are interested in being a part of something larger than themselves. The millennial generation is often thought of as being more focused on groups rather than individualism, and this may lead to the survey’s findings.

Understanding Ethics in Business

This last point brings about the question of what role ethics play in business as a whole. When a worker or business owner is faced with an ethical dilemma, it can be easy to simply shift the burden to the company instead of taking on the concern personally. For example, suppose a worker is told to lie to customers regarding the functionality of a product. The worker then has to decide whether he or she can ethically do this. The choice boils down to lying as instructed and feeling guilty or lying as instructed and rationalizing that it’s the company’s fault and not the worker’s fault.

Approaching Ethical Situations in the Workplace

Another piece of the equation is how a worker handles an ethical quandary without burning the customer or getting fired. This adds extra pressure to workers, often causing them to choose to go along with the unethical assignment and shift blame to the company. The worker may think that if he or she refuses the order, he or she will be fired. On the other hand, if the worker approaches his or her superior with an ethical concern, it may cause friction.

What to Do in an Ethical Fight

Whether you’re a millennial or not, you can face ethical concerns and not hurt customers or find yourself in trouble at work. One way to handle a situation is to approach your superior and bring up your concern in a way that’s helpful to the company. Instead of flat-out refusing the order, you could suggest a way around the ethics concern. This makes it seem as though you have the company’s best interest at heart while sparing the customer from whatever trouble was headed their way.

What are tactics for addressing and approaching a job candidates concerns when you are about to make an offer? How would you approach their concerns?

Andrew Rusnak is an author who writes on topics that include corporate recruiting and business development.

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