The Relationship Between Ethics and Career Success


Professional ethics refer to the codes of conduct in a working environment. They are a prerequisite to the establishment of strong relationships in the workplace. These relationships could be between managers, employees, managers and employees, customers and employees, etcetera. Strong professional relationships, based on adherence to professional ethics, determine the success of organizations. This, in turn, determines the success of employees in their careers.

Sources of professional ethics

The main source of professional ethics is the profession itself. For instance, there are ethical standards that should be upheld by all auditors e.g. the non-disclosure of the secrets of client companies. Different professional groups within the same profession also develop codes of ethics and enforce them. For instance, in medicine, the Hippocratic code is backed up by codes of ethics written by various regional, national and even international bodies. Thus the codes of ethics written by the BMA (British Medical Association) are significantly different from the ones written by the AMA (American Medical Association). Some professional codes are even laid down by academic and religions institutions. A person could be bound by ethics from other sources but if he/she has strong religious faith, they will abide more to the religious ethics related to their profession. The traditional culture also has an impact in professional ethics. For example, feminism, utilitarianism and Kantianism have substantial impact on professional behavior of people associated with them. This variety of the sources of professional ethics sometimes causes ethics to conflict. An example here is from the fact that national professional ethics apply to all professionals practicing in the specific country. This leads to a conflict between the binding organizational ethics and the national ethics (Veatch 2009, pp. 1-10).

Effect of professional ethics on career success

The achievement of success is not that directly related to professional ethics. It is the maintenance of this success that requires one to uphold high levels of ethics, both professional and personal. The definition of career success is in this case, very crucial. Is career success a healthy balance between life and work? Is it strictly determined by how many dollars we make or is it a balance between money and work satisfaction? All in all, adhering to professional ethics helps one achieve a lot career wise. For example, building a good relationship with managers based on integrity and ethics will most probably result in promotion, but if one stabs his workmates in the back to progress in the workplace, he/she will work in an environment filled with animosity. It is always good to be of high integrity and professional ethics even when no one seems to notice it. Some people may argue that if they commit a fraud, no one will notice them but even if no one knows their actions, they deprive themselves of their integrity and this can result to habitual laxity to uphold professional values. A great percentage of sackings are related to ethical problems and businesses and corporations have lost a lot of customers and clients due to the failure of their employees to follow professional ethics (Scharf 2009, p. 1).


The contribution of integrity and professional ethics to career development and success is, somehow, obvious. Examples of the repercussions of failure to adhere to professional ethics are innumerable in contemporary society. We should thus strive to learn from the mistakes of other people and be a part of the positive change necessary in the corporate world.


Scharf, A, (2009), “how does professional values and ethics impact career success”. Web.

Veatch, R, (2009), “The sources of professional ethics: why professions fail”. Web.

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