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Ethics and Values Stop Being Personal When They Affect Others

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The common argument is that Ethics, Morals, or Values are personal. Many also believe that the decision for our actions must come from within us. Quite often absolute standards are brought into question in regards to conversations about ethics.  But why? Considering that : 

EVERYTHING in our lives is based upon absolutes EVERY DAY. 

We deal with them on a personal level; Money for the food we eat; the need for shelter; and of course we all need to feel loved,  and we all require sense of belonging for mental and emotional survival; but most importantly - we ALL need to Feel Safe whether it be in personal or in business life. When we hurt someone,  we cause pain; with every action there is a reaction, and for every pro there is a con – Even when some may argue against absolute truths, those very arguments are also absolute, thus the word absolute becomes non-absolute.

If there were no absolutes to provide a measurement for society, then society itself would become the absolute. Without absolutes we weaken societies gauge and idea for tolerance – the same applies for ethics, values and morals.

Think about this, All mentally healthy adults know what is right from wrong and  are ALL born with a moral compass which allows us to determine the difference between right and wrong. We are taught much of this from an early age, not Only from our parents, but also from the Society that helps shape our impressions.

A good classifier to determine ethics is - Will my actions cause harm? can a repercussion come from this behavior? will I possibly regret my decision tomorrow? 
Ethics are determined by honesty, self-esteem, empathy, compassion, and a respect of individual rights – it is making an appropriate choice after having thought over all the possible consequences.

To sum it up -  quoted  unknown- “Any chosen action that purposely benefits the human organism or society is morally good and right. Any chosen action that purposely harms the human organism or society is morally bad and wrong.” - Thus Morality is unable to be an Absolute.

The is only grey line we as humans create Regarding ethics,  are the excuses and reasons we make to allow ourselves to feel more comfortable for any harm we may inflict, intentionally or inadvertently.

This is sometimes believed to be proven in Psych 101  - a bad conscience, and guilt despite the emotions at the time of the action can eventually lead to heart attacks, depression, anxiety, stress, nervousness, ulcers,  cancer, anger, lower self esteem, frustration and resentment.

Yet, If there are no absolutes in life, and if ethics and values are truly personal, then why do we teach our kids not to lie, steal or cheat? why do we continue to teach them the morals and values that were taught to us by our parents. Why do we even teach them the definition of what is appropriate from unsuitable? wanted to use right or wrong here)

Why DO we all understand the meaning of the words steal, lie, cheat, dishonor, obey, rules, regulation? For that matter, why do so many make efforts by respecting many of them in our day to day lives?

  • Why do we have police?
  • Why are the Jails full?
  • Why are there laws?
  • Why do we have a court system?
  • Why are we angry with Terrorism (do they believe in their views)
  • Why were we angry at Enron or TYCO to name a few?
  • Why are there so many lawsuits in courts?

Are these all only based upon respect of laws?  fear of repercussion? Or. because of the respect of the values we were taught? Or,  is it that laws were created to preserve our own personal character and self esteem? Or, for society as a whole? Or, is the answer a combination of them all?

When one suggests that what is morally right is determined by the culture or environment to which one belongs, or  that ethics should be considered personal, wouldn't that then mean that rape, murder, racism, abuse, victimization, assault and battery should also be automatically acceptable and embraced as personal? And to say that they are illegal, would that not be an absolute?

Remember Beliefs affect behavior. That is why in so many ways a belief system is so important and even absolutes are essential

Why do we get angry if our house was broken in and they stole what was “yours”, what you worked so hard to maintain, and keep as your own. Why do we even need a right to privacy?

Should we not have more empathy then at the poor guy who could not put food on his kids table and decided to rob you.. should we not be more understanding to his rationalization that it is easier to rob and steal and take what is Yours, than find another way, a better way… And then why don’t more people rob or steal?

There indeed is always a more positive way to do business or to be successful. There is no need to lower your standards as there are productive and creative but healthier and less harmful ways to do your task.

“We cannot gauge the moral level of the human race unless there is a perfect standard outside it by which it can be measured.”


“If each person is a law alone, then civilization is already dead and those who remain are but its pallbearers. This observation also applies to unions, companies, and other organizations within the larger society that occasionally claim the absolute right to act in the self-interest of their owners or members without any regard for the rest of society. That is, they define good to be what advances their collective power or position, even at the expense of all others.”


Rick Sutcliffe (Author of “The Fourth Civilization”)




Karen Mattonen started a career in Human Resources when she served as a Recruiter for Snelling Corporation. Leveraging her tenure with Snelling, Karen founded Advanced Career Solutions in 1997 focusing on the  HVAC and Mechanical Construction industry. Her reputation for excellence is echoed in the satisfaction of clients and candidates she has serviced nationwide. Furthermore, Karen is esteemed for sharing her expertise in Recruitment Education, Ethics and promoting self-regulation for the Recruiting industry.

She has a new and future-oriented vision of what recruiting can and should become: a profession we can be proud of for its ethical standing, professional conduct and ability to build great organizations. Her doing-well-by-doing-right philosophy is shaking up the status quo in an industry that needs to be shaken. She does this with conviction, leadership, and a distinctive voice that cries out for change.

Outside of the HR community, Karen Mattonen has been cited by Microsoft as a resource in how to use Microsoft Outlook as an ATS. She has also served as the Marketing and Public Relations Director for the 3rd largest city in Utah.

Her passionate and tireless advocacy has led her to create HireCentrix - The Pulse of H.R, Regulation, Retention, Recruiting and Risk Management  Hirecentrix is a company dedicated to providing training to the HR, recruiting and staffing industries, which includes a special focus on the ethical and legal dimensions through offering a full service resource for individuals to share and communicate, obtain current and accurate information, acquire and provide education and learning within the quickly expanding, diverse and rapidly changing Recruiting and Human Resource climate.

Karen has achieved accreditation as a California Accredited Consultant (CAC) through California Staffing Professionals. She has also gained her Certified Staffing Professional Certificate (CSP) through American Staffing Professionals. (

Click here to reach Karen via email.


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Growth in women's share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations declined to 27% in 2011from a high of 34% in 1990. While women make up nearly half of the workforce, they were 26% of the STEM workforce in 2011.

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