Ethical vs. Legal Standards

Laws codify ethical action. However, all ethical behavior may not be legal. For instance, citizens may protest an unfair legislation. This is an example of ethical behavior but the law enforcement will not consider such a protest legal. 

Whistleblowing falls well in the ambit of ethical behavior. The whistleblower reports illegal practices within the industry or organization. However, the organization to which the whistleblower belongs or the country of which he is a part will consider it an illegal action or even treason. 

Laws are important to monitor markets. They help ensure there is no ambiguity with regard to certain actions. Unfortunately, laws by themselves are not enough. They can be narrow in scope. Laws may be sufficient but ethical behavior covers more ground. Ethical behavior is required in every dealing, everyday. It requires judgment that helps reach useful conclusions. Ethical behavior must benefit multiple stakeholders - clients, family, colleagues, employers, and market participants - to name a few.

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