The importance of behaving ethically

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Editor's note: This article orginally appeared on our UK site, but the wisdom shared is applicable here as well

You can only be betrayed by those you trust, everything else is just business.

Being a headhunter and worse still, one that specializes in bankers, it may strike you as odd that I'm writing about ethics, but I believe that a view from the bottom is as valid as the one from the top, where you no doubt sit.

This article was inspired by a conversation with someone about their first job straight out of college. Their team had a stand at a conference and they had the standard "put you business card in this bucket for a chance to win a very big bottle of champagne," display.

At the end of the conference, the newly promoted head of sales packed the cards for future reference, opened the bottle and shared it around the junior staff who'd worked on the stand.

Now, these were also mostly people who were in their first job. And in their eyes, the clear signal transmitted by the sharing of the champagne was this and the clear signal being sent was this: since there was no one person who could possibly complain that they didn't get the champagne, it was ok to drink it themselves.

The head of sales may not have realized it, but in behaving this way, he was storing up trouble for himself in future. The reason most people don't do the bad things they could do is that they choose not to having been socialized into accepting that some things are unacceptable.

In this situation, the manager was signalling that unethical behavior is acceptable. And given that opportunities to shaft the competition are rare, but that opportunities to shaft customers and team members are far more frequent, he was likely to be the main victim of this in future. It's hard to see his career thriving as a result.

Dominic Connor is a Director of P&D Quant Recruitment and teaches Ethics to Quants on the Wilmott CQF

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