Ethics isn’t just black & white. It’s a whole lot of gray.

I’m on a committee that’s gearing up for our annual Ethics in Business Forum this week where we share best practices and recognize organizations and people who are committed to ethical standards and demonstrate ethical actions.

Focus of articles, conversations and news usually is on the extremes: the bad guys and the good guys. “Black & white ethics” is easy to spot. There are people who are steadfast in being honest and honorable. On the other extreme, there are people who unashamedly break all the rules. With these two groups, at least you know where those people stand. It’s the “gray area ethics” that concerns me most. This group is full of people who say they are ethical, but when given the opportunity, sometimes – not always – fall to temptation. Their excuses are usually “it’s not that big of a deal this time,” “it didn’t hurt anyone,” or “but I’m mostly an honest person.” Whatever the excuse, too many people think it’s ok to be slightly unethical at times when it’s convenient.

No one walking on this earth is perfect. In business – and in life – ethical consistency isn’t easy. But it’s ALWAYS the right thing to do. Look around for the gray areas. Be intentional about helping others get through those brief moments. And it’s ok to ask others to help you get through those as well. We all need support in this area.