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Ethics Awareness: Overview

Learn why ethics awareness is important to you and to UCSD.

Acting ethically is the right thing to do, but it's not always easy. Often, conforming to a high standard of conduct is not about clear-cut right and wrong decisions, but choosing the "lesser of two evils." Some decisions require that you prioritize and choose between competing ethical values and principles.

Ethical decision-making is based on core character values like trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and good citizenship. Ethical decisions generate ethical behaviors and provide a foundation for good business practices.

See a model for making ethical decisions. It will provide you with a framework and practical strategies as you make decisions.

Why are business ethics important to UCSD?

  • We are responsible for upholding the public trust.
  • We are accountable to spend and use our resources the way they were intended.
  • We are accountable to our “stakeholders” — donors, funding agencies, students, and parents.

Public employees are expected to be examples of responsible citizenship. Employees of the University have a responsibility to make all professional decisions based on merit, unimpeded by conflicting personal interests. We are expected to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Our reputation is important because it affects the University's ability to attract students, faculty, and staff. Our reputation also impacts the quality of research performed, the community's perception of us, and our standing as a renowned public institution.

Consequences of unethical behaviors:

  • Criminal charges and/or fines
  • Lawsuits
  • Ruined careers
  • Injured organization reputation
  • Wasted time
  • Low morale
  • Recruiting difficulties
  • Oppressive legislation
  • Fraud and scandals

How do we cultivate an ethical institution?

  • Emphasize good internal controls. Our control environment sets the tone for our organization. The Office of the Controller offers information on best practices for incorporating internal controls into daily processes and creating an effective control environment. Control environment factors include integrity, ethical values, and competence of our staff and faculty.
  • Promote an ethical environment. Our organization embraces ethical values and practices we deem central to a healthy environment. To facilitate a high level of integrity in your department:
    • Tell people what is expected of them.
    • Set the example.
    • Give the message and repeat it often.
    • Use available resources.