What Does “ETHICS” Mean to You?

ethics1The meaning can be hard to pin down and the Institute of Real Estate Management specifies professional codes of ethics in great detail.  The view many people have about ethics are sometimes shaky and arguable.  What it means to PSA:  Ethics are Standards of Conduct.  How one behaves based on moral duties and virtues. Ethics are derived from principals of right and wrong and practical decision making.  They specify the nature of the moral obligation central to ethical behavior.

In property management we may face ethical decisions daily.  We experience potential conflicts of interest which can be a personal, usually financial, interest sufficient to appear to influence the objective exercise of his or her official duties.  Sources of conflicts come from external business affiliations, business gifts or entertainment, use of confidential information to further your interest, and influence peddling – soliciting money, gifts or favors.   Have you ever had a vendor offer you a “gift” that just doesn’t feel right?  We have a simple litmus test for you that explores each source of conflict.

External Business Affiliations

  • Does your external business compete with your employer”s business?
  • Does your external business allow you to “do business with yourself?”
  • Have you concealed your external business interest from you employer?  From your client(s)?
  • Does your employer have a policy that the situation violates?

 Business Gifts That Look Like Bribes

  • Does the donor expect something in return?
  • Is the gift in cash or extraordinarily high in value?  High enough to affect your objectivity or appear to be out of line?
  • Is the gift presented “out in the open,” or secretly?
  • Is the gift really a payoff, bribe, or kickback?

Use Of Confidential Information To Further Private Interests

  • Does your use of this information harm your employer’s or your client’s interests?
  • Does your use of this information violate a confidentiality agreement?
  • Does your use of this information violate any laws?

Influence Peddling

  • Does the other party think your influence will be used to advance a third party’s interest unfairly?
  • Could your influence possible be used to advance a third party’s interests unfairly?
  • Are you representing the interests of someone other than your client or your employer?

While avoiding conflicts of interest is important, taking an active role in preventing such conflicts is just as important.  As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said “It takes less time to do a thing right than to explain why you did it wrong.”

Ponder this… Values are rules.  Morals are how we judge others.  Integrity is doing the right thing.  Ethics are a set of principals of right conduct – professional standards.


So live that you wouldn’t be ashamed to sell the family parrot to the town gossip. – Will Rogers


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