Building an Ethical Career

by Maryam Kouchaki and Isaac H. Smith

MOST OF US THINK of ourselves as good people. We set out to be ethical, and we hope that in pivotal moments we will rise to the occasion. But when it comes to building an ethical career, good intentions are insufficient. Decades’ worth of research has identified social and psychological processes and biases that cloud people’s moral judgment, leading them to violate their own values and often to create contorted, post hoc justifications for their behavior. So how can you ensure that from day to day and decade to decade you will do the right thing in your professional life?

The first step requires shifting to a mindset we term moral humility—the recognition that we all have the ...

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