Baylor Business Review
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The Ethics Quick Test

The Left Hand Test

Is the action legal? Like the thumb is different from the four fingers, this test is different from the remaining four tests. This is a ‘yes-no’ question, where the remaining tests are designed to raise issues and offer warnings. Like the thumb of the Roman emperor, it’s either up or down, right or wrong, yes or no. And if the answer is ‘no,’ then the contest is over, the decision-making process is over. The decision has been made. We will not violate the law.

Newspaper Test
How would it look in the newspaper? Bending the first finger down to meet the thumb forms an eyeglass we use to read the report on our actions in the local newspaper. Would we have chosen this path, this action, if we had known it would be reported in full for everyone to see? There are many versions of this test, but it all comes down to the question whether we feel obligated to shroud our actions, to hide them from the view of our boss, our family, our friends.

Professional Values
Does it comply with company values? Extending the third finger along with the second forms the letter ‘V’ which reminds us of the VALUES, of what counts when we take an action or make a decision. Not all of our decisions can be covered by a rule or a policy…nor would we want them to be. A good understanding of company values will help us make those tough decisions right the first time…every time.

Fairness Test
Am I treating others the same way I would choose to be treated? Some people call this The Golden Rule…just like the golden ring many of us wear on this finger. The legend is that this finger is connected directly to the heart…and treating each other fairly is at the very heart of the decision-making process.

Instinct and Personal Values
If I do it, will I feel bad? Adding the last little finger makes the process complete just as it makes the hand complete. And when I feel bad, my complete hand goes to the effected area…maybe the chest or heart…or maybe the head. The test is complete.

Courtesy of Glen Coleman, LRN.

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