Nobody wakes up and says, I think I'll lie or cheat someone today. So why do so many people participate in unethical behavior? Why are so many people challenged to do the right thing?
I strongly believe it is because many people can't take responsibility for who they are and what they do. Instead they have this smoke screen that sheilds them from really seeing and owning their behavior and it's effects on others.
It's as if getting away with misbehaving makes it ok and nobody has to feel guilty.
Unethical people have found a way to justify bad behavior and justifying bad behavior has become a way to survive.
At our local university last month something terrible happened. A young man walked into a university party and he killed 5 people. When askedwhy he said they deserved it and the sytem made him crack.
People who do horrific things often find a way to justify their behavior.
I used to teach improv to female prison offenders. The good thing about these offenders is they ( usually) outright admit to and take responsibility for what they did. They knew they were guilty of their crime and they were serving the punishment. Thus, the crime was out in the open and there was no need to cover it up or hide it from others.
The stopped justifying bad behaviour and just lived with the consequences.
Perhaps the real criminals are everyday people walking around telling white lies, distorting the truth and hurting others.
Everybody does things that deep down we know are not right, but we do them anyways. We ignore that nagging feeling that this is not ok.
When it comes to workplace bullying, fraud, or acts of disrespect, perhaps the answer is awareness of unethical behavior. Sometimes people just need a reminder that it's not ok to steal office supplies or gossip about coworkers.
I saw a leadership guest speaker once explain why it is ok for people to be unethical and suggest it is a part of the corporate culture. I think people can be ethical, even if the culture dictates otherwise.