work ethicsBefore, we spoke about the nature of a good down-home work ethic. Now let’s give a moment’s thought to work ethics. Now, this came as a surprise to me, but a recent study suggests that women are more averse to moral compromises in a business environment than men are. Some suggest that this is the very reason that there are fewer women in certain fields. For instance:Among the most senior executives at investment banks, fewer than five percent are women.”

No doubt there are other strong factors influencing gender imbalances in such fields, but this study strongly indicates that the ethical factor plays a role as well.

So what does this study mean? And what does it imply?

Well, there are three parts to this very intriguing study. The first part found that women were more outraged by ethical compromises and “perceived less business sense” in said compromises. The second study showed a relationship between distaste for ethical compromise and “disinterest in business careers. The third studyfound that women implicitly associated business with immorality more than men did.

What is not concluded in this study is that women are somehow inherently more ethical than men, but rather that men are essentially encouraged to be more ruthless, whereas women are expected to be more moral. The ‘women are more moral’ view is not new, and I find myself uncertain about what all of this really means.

What I do know is that men must be held to the same ethical standards, and women are not some magical cure-all for the moral ailments of the business world. Nevertheless some have suggested—as a result of this study and various experiences—that more women in business leadership roles can have a positive influence on the ethical environment of a corporation. In addition, Jessica Kennedy—the lead researcher for this study of women and ethics in business—stated that this “…is an interesting case where businesses can retain talented women by acting more ethically.

So for any women out there who are interested in leadership in business, you would do well to remember that ethics are an asset. Being an ethical worker and an ethical leader can potentially influence the entire work environment for the better. It may not always be easy but it will be right.

And! For the road, a few quotes from women about ethical work:

“Honesty is the cornerstone of all success, without which confidence and ability to perform shall cease to exist.”

-Mary Kay Ash

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

-Eleanor Roosevelt

 “One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.” 

-Joan of Arc*

 *This is widely attributed to Joan of Arc, but is not verified.