It’s a commonly held belief that everyone has their own moral compass. The internal guidance that tells them how to behave. It gives them an understanding of their own personal listing of right and wrong. It will vary greatly from person to person with no one sharing exactly the same definition of right or wrong.
Ethics, on the other hand, is the definition of right and wrong as set by a collective. Capitalism does not have a good or bad, right or wrong. But the participants in the system collectively decide what should happen. Bernie Madoff behaved according to his own moral system but was afoul of the collective ethical agreement. Ethics is much like peer pressure – it sets a minimum guidance for those that have ethical systems less conservative than average. This is especially helpful for corporations or businesses because it allows them to set the tone for how their employees should behave regardless of individual morals.
So why is this important? As service providers it is important for us to understand the driving ethics of the businesses we are supporting. Often, the right solution is built on a foundation set by that ethical system. If we behave according to our own moral code at all times, there will be many instances where we are not in alignment with the client. Sometimes it is good to be the chameleon. Of course, sometimes it’s good to be the rebel.