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The Power of Choice and the Meaning of Ethics - includes full keynote presentation!

December 4, 2018  

The Power of Choice and the Meaning of Ethics

Ethics – at work and in life – is a very powerful thing. Ethics structure our thought processes, anchor our feelings and solidify our actions.

When we make decisions, there are many internal factors at play – the given circumstances and potential consequences around the decision, the emotional reaction versus logical response, and the need and/or opportunity that may ground or result from the decision. And in a given work environment there are external factors, including the impact your decision-making will have on your colleagues, employers and organization.

CPHR Manitoba has a Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct (the Code) that sets out the ethical standard for the human resources profession. This national standard maps out ethical conduct, competent service and good character that all CPHRs and members of CPHR Manitoba must abide by.

Whether working as employees, consultants or independent practitioners, CPHRs represent our national standard for excellence in workplaces throughout Manitoba and across Canada. Our HR professionals help employers address issues such as protecting businesses from unnecessary risks, attracting and keeping quality talent, connecting business goals to job performance, meeting employment standards and regulatory requirements, and enhancing leadership skills at all levels. They also help employers grow through workforce management, innovation programs and accountability – all in an ethical, professional manner.

As CPHR Manitoba continues down the path towards being legislated, we recognize the evolving landscape of the HR industry and how the Code supports every step. HR professionals have the expertise, the best practice industry standards, the skills and experience to help employers address key issues while serving the four areas of the Code.

The Code is the foundation of decision-making that grounds logical thinking and strategic planning; Economic success – supported by ethics – is essential to our survival and HR professionals are positioned in the workplace to take on the social and environmental responsibilities to channel local, strategic and ethical decisions to workers and employers alike, guided by the Code.

According to the American Society of Association Executives, having a Code of Ethics in place is one of the top reasons professionals join Associations.

Additionally, according to the Manitoba Chamber of Commerce's 2019 Manitoba Business Outlook Survey, 86% of their members see value in professionals needing to abide by a Code of Ethics. 

Our members and CPHRs are the reason our workplaces are progressive and employers and employees are equally supported. Us achieving legislation will strengthen the role of HR in the workplace, protect the public and continue to support employers and employees throughout Manitoba.

Which leads back to the power of ethics. Having rules and regulations in place helps to steer ethical decision-making in a positive direction; however, it’s equally important to see how easily decision-making can be swayed and defer away from ethical thinking.

Chuck Gallagher, Business Ethics Expert, recently spoke at CPHR Manitoba’s HR Conference, HRevolution, about making a choice, the consequences that come with making that choice and how our thoughts, choices and decisions define who we are and the outcomes of our lives.

Gallagher began his Keynote presentation wearing an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs, taking his symbolic 23 steps to the stage – the same number of steps that he took to arrive at Federal prison when he was sentenced to jail – saying, “Every choice has a consequence.”

Further into his presentation, Gallagher says, “If you ask someone if they would do something that would completely derail their life, their response would be no.”

“No” may be truly honest and genuine response but the reality is that there are certain things in life that are emotional trigger points. As an HR professional, this is a challenge: there are rules and regulations we need to abide by but there are emotional triggers – financial, relationship- or health-related - that effect people and motivate unethical behaviour (personally or professionally).

According to Gallagher, there are the three main components that will lead to an ethical lapse: to have a need (financial, health, relationships, etc.), to find an opportunity (to solve the problem), and to rationalize the thoughts/decisions/behaviours. To quote Gallagher, “What are you willing to do to keep your employees between the ethical lines?”

See below for Chuck Gallagher’s full Keynote presentation at HRevolution.

For more information about CPHR Manitoba and our Code of Ethics and Rules of Professional Conduct, contact Lori Brule, CPHR Candidate, CPHR Designation Manager, at or 204-943-3624.

Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Manitoba (CPHR Manitoba)
1810-275 Portage Avenue / Winnipeg, Manitoba / R3B 2B3
tel. 204.943.2836 / fax. 204.943.1109 / email.

For additional information please visit: CPHR.CA

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