Twelve Questions Toward Ethical Decision-Making

[These 12 questions for examining the ethics of a decision were adapted from the steps formulated by Harvard Business School Professor Laura Nash in her Harvard Business Review article, “Ethics without the Sermon” (1981)]

  1. Have you defined the problem accurately?
  2. How would you define the problem if you stood on the other side of the fence?
  3. How did this situation occur in the first place?
  4. To whom and to what do you give your loyalty as a person and as a member of the organization?
  5. What is your intention in making this decision?
  6. How does this intention compare with the probable results?
  7. Whom could your decision injure?
  8. Can you discuss the problem with the affected parties before you make your decision
  9. Are you confident that your position will be as valid over a long period of time as it seems now?
  10. Could you disclose without qualm your decision or action to your boss, the head of your organization, your colleagues, your family, the person you most admire, or society as a whole?
  11. What is the symbolic potential of your action if understood? If misunderstood?
  12. Are there circumstances when you would allow exceptions to your stand? What are they?


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