Unethical conduct- which IEA defines as behavior that harms self and/or others - has been painfully evident for all of recorded history. How have societies grappled with the destructive, counterproductive thoughts and actions of its citizens? Generally, rewards are offered and punishments imposed to discourage unwanted behavior. Everything from ostracizing and/or fining detrimental behavior to praising and rewarding constructive activities has been tried. Based on the evidence, these tactics work selectively and temporarily at best. The Institute for Ethical Awareness believes that the only way to motivate and sustain constructive conduct is to alter the distorted thinking and damaging misconceptions that underlie unethical behavior. And the best way to change the beliefs that lead to harmful actions is to document how unethical behavior creates grave problems for all concerned. The resulting damage is not in anyone's interest, least of all the initiator.
While people engage in disreputable activities in every field of endeavor, the business world is filled with examples of how unethical behavior creates undesirable consequences. Those who engage in lying, bribing, polluting and bullying create a workplace filled with tension, stress and varying degrees of disease. These conditions lead to increased absenteeism, lower productivity, sullied reputations and elevated health care costs. Combating unethical behavior, therefore, is not only the right thing to do but a very practical policy that directly benefits the bottom line.