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Why We Need to Speak Up Against Unethical Practice



Our industry is built on ethics, and we shouldn’t forget this

As communicators, our product is building and maintaining reputations. And ethics is fundamental to this goal. You can’t build a reputation without trust, and that comes from behaving ethically. It’s like trying to build a home without any foundations; sooner or later, that home is going to collapse. 

This is one simple trust we must all accept. Another is that the world around us is increasingly being viewed as an untrustworthy place. Faith in the media has been dropped for a number of years, no doubt in part due to political rhetoric against ‘fake news’. And governments aren’t doing any better; many have struggled desperately during the pandemic to even convince the public to get vaccinated. Businesses are finally waking up to the need to care about more than the bottom line, and get involved in solving society’s big issues, such as poverty and climate change.

We may have little control over these issues, but what we can do is ensure that we’re working to the highest ethical standards. We owe this to ourselves, and it’s what our long-term success is built upon. Whenever you feel that you’re being asked to do something wrong, to tell a lie or to deceive, push back and say no. Whenever you believe that there’s an attempt to mislead over the facts, speak up. 

I’m not going to pretend this is easy; in some places throughout the world, there’s little to no protection for communicators who wish to stand up and raise objections. But what we all can do is remind others, subtly and regularly, that reputations are built on trust and faith. This is a central tenet of our relationships – love and friendships are primarily based on trust. And it’s same with organisations too.

What is changing are the ethical challenges we are facing. It’s becoming increasingly common for channels such as social media to be manipulated to depict a falsehood as truth. And newer technologies such as Artificial Intelligence have the capacity to produce deep fakes that could fool anyone. And we’re going to see more new technologies that have the ability to deceive more convincingly than anything we’ve seen before.

And that’s why ethics will continue to remain relevant to what we do. In an industry where we are only as good as how much we are trusted, the values of honesty, openness, respect and integrity will always matter and should be what we strive for every day. Our industry is built on ethics, and let’s ensure that not only do we remember this, but everyone we work with also understands this.