Making Ethics ImportantWritten By: Bob Hunt
In last weeks column we emphasized the distinction between ethicsas a body of rules and principles and being ethical as a disposition to conform to those rules and principles. We noted that it is certainly possible to teach someone ethics, but it is a different task to lead someone to be ethical -- to internalize those principles and to be guided by them. See: Ethics Can Be Taught, But Thats Not All There Is To It
To be sure, there are some who would reject this view that a person could know what is good or right, but not choose it. It is a view that Plato rejected, so they would be in good company. Nonetheless, I think there is plenty of evidence that someone may do what is wrong, even though they know it is wrong. I will go no further than to cite the church->Be all that as it may, we are still left with the very real question: what would it take to incentivize REALTORSreg; to behave in a way that would conform to the articles and principles embodied in the Realtorreg; Code of Ethics? I think the answer is fairly simple, although implementing it could take some work.
REALTORSreg; are more likely to become conversant with the Code, and to conduct their businesses in accordance with its provisions, when they see and believe that this is important to the firms that they work for and the people they work with.
If agents only hear through general pronouncements that ethics are important to their company, and yet they only see that ethics seems to be the Boards, or Associations, concern, they are not much liable to seek to learn about the Codes provisions, nor to let those provisions affect the way they do business.
Its pretty simple really. If agents are going to conduct their businesses in accordance with the Code, they will need to see that doing so is important to their company. This, of course, would also entail seeing that the unethical would not be tolerated by their company.
Easy to say; but what would it take to make it happen that agents could see that ethics was important to their company? First and foremost, I would say, there needs to be on-going ethics training at the office or company level. Some might remember that this was the central tenet of the federal guidelines when it came to matters of corporate behavior. It is a mitigating factor in the case of unethical or unlawful behavior by an employee when it can be shown that the company had a program that tried to teach right behavior.
Theres no question but that it would take work for companies to provide ethics training. Certainly, the Associations could help to develop programs and materials. Perhaps they could even provide instructors. But it would have to clearly be the companys enterprise, not "the Boards."
Moreover, the question arises: why would companies want to devote time and resources to this? Well, perhaps the Realtorreg; Associations, who are very good at promoting certifications -- which are earned through taking courses -- could come up with something that would give public recognition to a company or an agent for pursuing a regime of ethics->The possibilities, I believe, are endless.
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