An Ethics class on wheels

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Michael drives to work everyday. He leaves his house at 6:30 a.m. at the latest, and arrives in Makati at about 7:00 a.m., in time for his breakfast date with Michelle. The time spent on the road is Michael’s class on Ethics. Do you want to see how it goes for Michael in one of his Ethics classes?

There is actually a whole lot of preparation before Michael leaves at 6:30 a.m. Michael should have a firm resolve to wake up and pull himself out of bed at 5:00 a.m. This seems to be a simple and easy task.

Today, Michael passed his first test. He was up at 5:00 a.m. Consequently, he was able to leave his residence before 6:30 a.m. It was a good preparation to start his practical class on Ethics as he was focused on his goal to reach Makati to meet Michelle for breakfast before going to work.

In pursuing the goal, Michael has to face the road travel challenge. He realizes that he is not an “I” when he travels but a part of a “we.”


The first street corner from his house is a grade school. Michael observes that various modes of transport bring grade school pupils to school. These are cars, tricycles, motorcycles and bicycles. There are also a lot of people coming and going because the little ones need to be accompanied by an adult to get to school safely.
As expected, there is traffic congestion on the street where the school gate is located. Leaving his residence on time while confident that he has sufficient travel time allows Michael to be mindful of the others while traveling. He can afford to yield to the various motorists and is willing to do so.

The next challenge is an intersection without a traffic light. Michael notices that at a later part of the day, a traffic enforcer is stationed at the intersection to direct the motorists. However, on early mornings without the traffic enforcer, it is a wonderful opportunity to practice respect and courtesy on the road. During his early morning travels, Michael observes that motorists have time to pause and check three sides of the intersection.
Michael is not quick to conclude that he will go first among the motorists in the intersection. Crossing the intersection smoothly and gracefully is a powerful testament of respect and courtesy, mindful of the needs of others.

As Michael nears Makati, he traverses a four-lane street. How easy it is to change lanes and even “snake-drive” around spirals on the road. Thanks to the reminder on the road, “Stay in your lane,” Michael chose to be patient, respectful and courteous as he does so, mindful of the “we.” Moreover, it is also his small contribution to the competition in doing good.

He arrives at the parking lot and greets the guard on duty. It is 6:50 a.m. He then walks happily to meet Michelle for breakfast. It is, indeed, a promising day, which makes Michael and Michelle smile.

Some lessons learned in the Ethics Class

1. Focus on the goal and its purpose

Be single-minded in pursuing your goal – personal or otherwise. Our workplace can be a complex environment as we encounter people and adhere to certain ways of doing things. Let us convert distractions along the way as reminders that we just have to keep on going. It is up to us to discover how people around us and certain ways of doing things can work toward the achievement of our goal. Looking beyond achieving our goal, we realize that the purpose is to build relationships with one another.

2. Adopt a “we” mindset

As we travel the path leading to our goal, we will discover the deep reality that each of us is a part of a “we.” Each person is not an anonymous entity. Each one has a name and has a role to play in an organization. We owe one another respect and courtesy, especially because each one has his or her priorities at a given time. Many times, this will require us to say “No” to our personal preferences. The constant consideration of the “we” will help us work together for the common good.

3. Compete in doing good

A competitive working environment on one hand can be beneficial to an organization as this gives an impetus for creativity and efficiency. On the other hand, this can also lead to intellectual and emotional fatigue. Here is an alternative: How about competing in doing good? Let us outdo one another by doing effective and sincere service to others. Our collective effort to build a culture of trust starts with one single act of caring. A team member who cares acts with integrity, is able to work together with others, outsmarting oneself to make a difference to the lives of other people.

Codes of Conduct at our respective organizations are helpful reminders to let us focus on our goals and their purposes. Let us all adopt a “we” mindset and compete among ourselves in doing good.

Maria Grace A. Aries is an Ethics and Independence director at Isla Lipana & Co., a member firm of the PwC network. For more information, please email markets@ph.pwc.com. This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

MARIA GRACE A. ARIES

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