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When the officers of a company determine which employees to hire or what vendors to use, one of the primary concerns is trust. Companies dealing with the economy have come to terms with the concept that paying more to a company or individual with a reputation for fulfilling their promises often costs less than selecting the lowest bidder. To make this selection, the values, ethics and morals of a vendor, employee or customer often come under scrutiny.
The values of a company or individual are the core things that drive and motivate effort. A good restaurant values cleanliness, quality of food and good customer service. A data entry clerk values speed and accuracy of data entry. In business terms, values are what drive a person or company to perform.
Ethics are the codified standards of behavior of a given industry or social setting. Lawyers are expected to maintain confidentiality. Doctors are expected to remain emotionally separate from those in their care. Ethics are always recorded in some form and often the subject of academic study. They are the codified promises a company or individual make concerning quality, cost and time frame related to delivery of goods and services.
Morals are a definition of what actions are right, just and fair. Morality is based less on the fulfillment of promises, and more on conforming to wide social beliefs. Morals are not always written but usually understood by most members of a society, including those who choose to act against the common morality.
To act ethically is to fulfill the promises one has made. To act morally is to live within the standard of good and evil defined by society. A given action can be moral, ethical, both or neither. A criminal who promises to deliver immoral services is ethical if he fulfills his promise. A lawyer who divulges information proving his client is guilty of a terrible crime may be acting morally, but he is breaking the ethics of his profession.
Emily Taylor has been writing professionally since 2001. Her work has appeared in "The Observer," the student newspaper for Notre Dame. She works as an instructor in English at Brown Mackie College. Taylor holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature with a minor in professional writing from Saint Mary's College.