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Professional and Business Ethics: Bridging the Gap
Dave, the senior engineer associated with the Fastran computer project, is approached by Louise, director of marketing. "We've got that international sales convention coming up in two months," she reminds him. "Fastran II has to be ready." "I'm sorry, Louise," Dave says. "The speed rate component you've been promoting on the II will not be ready by then." "That's all right," Louise swiftly replies. "We'll display our model with a promise of the speed rate to come." "No way," Dave persists. "Our engineering team will never go for a release without the perfected model. It wouldn't be right to promise what we can't deliver."
How often have you been asked to make an exception for a professional segment of your workforce that happens to have different ethical standards? How could you stay in business if you had to meet each and every professional standard, albeit from specially trained employees?
Well, first, who are these people who are governed by special ethical standards? We are referring to "salaried" professionals, be they engineers, scientists, lawyers, doctors, accountants, nurses, teachers and the like who have chosen to practice their craft inside an organization rather than in private practice. One common denominator among them is the adherence to standards specified by the profession, not by any corporate entity (save for the professional association or society that, among its roles, serves to further sustain these standards).
Although we would never accuse managers of not acting "professionally" most of the time, they are not professionals by this definition. The occupation of management satisfies a number of other attributes commonly associated with professionalism, including advanced schooling. But as yet, there is no principal association in this country representing most managers that specifies a set of standards and ethical criteria governing practice in the field. And indeed, many would question whether this kind of association would be advisable, since by law and tradition, managers should be first identified with their corporations, not some amorphous professional association. …