An ethical awareness inventory is an instrument that is used to identify an individual’s central ethical style by demonstrating their prevalent ethical philosophies used to make ethical and moral decisions.
The inventory descriptions are then used in analyzing individual’s perspective on ethics and determining their consequent basis for ethical decision making. Although the general perspective presented by the inventory may not exactly fit an individual’s perspectives, the instrument results provide crucial insights into an individual’s general approaches and views with regard to ethical issues.
The ethical awareness inventory indicated that my profile was more strongly aligned with an obligation ethical philosophy and least aligned to a results based ethical philosophy.
An obligation oriented ethical style indicates that such individual generally tend to base their ethical perspectives on obligation or duty to perform moral acts or make moral decisions. Ethical conduct in this case appeals strongly to the conscience. Making ethical judgments thus entails examining the person’s intent in carrying out their actions rather than the results of their actions.
Emphasizing on intent and conscious in obligation oriented style opens the style to risks of individual’s egocentrism and conformity to group thinking, which may distort individuals conscious and intent (Paul and Elder, 2006). Nonetheless, an obligation oriented philosophy results to a perspective that regards ethical principles as universal, and as intended at promoting individual autonomy and freedom besides laying an emphasis on respect for human dignity.
Understanding your ethical perspective and ethical decision making driving forces is a crucial step in preventing misunderstandings between an individual’s ethical perspective and an organizations’ perspective. Individuals should select career options or work for organizations that hold similar ethical perspectives to their own.
Ensuring there is no mismatch between the individual’s ethical perspectives and organizations dominant perspectives would also aid an individual in career development as few ethical based conflicts are likely to be present. Fewer conflicts would give the employees better opportunities for career development, promotions and reduce employee’s chances of terminations and demotions.
One other way of reducing the mismatch is through formal educational experience and educational training. Potential conflicts may occur where a mismatch exists between individuals in their ethical philosophies and perspective.
For example, a superior who may hold results philosophy may opt for the most beneficial choice to be undertaken especially where a cost benefit analysis clearly indicate that it is the right choice. However, an individual with an obligation oriented philosophy may still desire for a choice based on a moral duty or obligation.
An obligation oriented individual who believes that use of cost benefit analysis is not the best method to deal with ethical issues may thus find themselves in conflict with most organizations that use a cost benefit analysis to make ethical decisions. Education experience may impart a person with various reasoning skills that will further aid in decision making and more so in ethical decision making (Paul and Elder, 2003).
An ethical inventory is thus clearly an important tool in identifying individual’s general prevalent ethical perspectives, philosophies and style and their consequent underlying ethical decision making criteria. Using of the tool for both an individual and the employees may aid to reduce a mismatch between an organizations ethics framework and the individuals and also reduce ethical conflicts amongst employees.
Individuals can also use the instrument to understand the way they make ethical decisions and thus reduce conflicts by selecting to work for those organizations that they most agree. Still, use of various concepts to aid in ethical decision making can further aid individuals in ethical decision making.
Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2003). The miniature guide to understanding the foundations of ethical reasoning. Dillon Beach, CA: Foundation for Critical Thinking
Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2006). Critical thinking: Tools for taking charge of your professional and personal life (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Financial Times/Prentice Hall.