Is the Future Workforce Ethically Ready?

December 21, 2007 ( - While the majority of U.S. teens surveyed said they are prepared to make ethical decisions when they enter the workforce, other findings of a recent study indicate that is questionable.

According to a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report on a survey of 726 U.S. teens by Junior Achievement and Deloitte & Touche USA, 71% of teens said they are prepared to make ethical decisions on the job. However, 38% said it is sometimes necessary to lie, cheat, plagiarize, or behave violently in order to succeed.

Twenty-seven percent indicated it is not fair for an employer to suspend or fire a worker for behaving unethically outside of work, and more than half (57%) said they do not think it is fair for employers to make hiring or firing decisions based on what employees or job candidates have posted on the Internet, the news report said.

However, roughly a quarter (23%) of teens surveyed agreed violence toward someone on some level is acceptable, including for settling arguments (27%) and exacting revenge (20%).

David Miller, Ph.D., executive director of the Yale Center on Faith and Culture and an assistant adjunct professor of business ethics said in a press release the findings suggest “an attitude of ethical relativism and rationalization of whatever actions serve one’s immediate needs and purposes,” and that: “This way of thinking will inevitably lead to unethical, if not illegal, actions that will damage individual lives and ruin corporate reputations.”