Morality, Ethics and Gender

“Are Women More Moral Than Men?” was the title of the Sun’s article last April 17. According to this write-up, the study of Prof. Roger Steare (Corporate Philosopher at Cass Business School in London) involving 60,000 volunteers demonstrates that women and the over 30s have a higher moral attitude. This is because women consider the feelings of others (thus, in many instances put their own needs last) while men are self-interested and have an individual approach in decision making.

Morality refers to the principles of right conduct (‘refer’ because it’s not objective) which is independent of the law, and instead are codes set by the society and accepted by individuals for their own behaviour. Some people have lost opportunities and employment due to their immoral or unethical decision or misjudgment of what the society considers right (good) and wrong (bad). In France, for instance, it is believed that if Mr. Dominique Strauss Khan didn’t face legal battles for allegations of sexual misconducts, he would be a strong candidate in this year’s presidential election.

Morality is associated with ethics because the latter is a form of moral philosophy – i.e. what you should do as a boss, friend, parent, child, teacher, citizen or professional person in a given situation. There are cases when what’s ethical is immoral, e.g. slavery in the ancient time and today’s so called ‘donations’ to gain business contracts.

A person’s action is guided by his/her sense of righteousness. Unfortunately, in business being moral is a minor issue compared to economic factors. Could more female shakers and movers in the banking and financial sectors prevented the economic crisis?

Should we have more female politicians to make our society more just, peaceful and caring? Currently, there are female heads of states, e.g. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Argentina; Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Australia; Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany; Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand; President Joyce Banda, Malawi. Are they really different from their male counterparts?

I believe that morality is a product of one’s upbringing, socialization and education. Early on in life, we are exposed to and learn our mores and values from our parents and family. There’s enough literature on the influential effect of the media, entertainment and friends on individual’s attitudes and behaviours. Many of us have a story to tell on the crucial role of teachers in encouraging and challenging children’s views regarding what’s virtuous and not.

Due to socio-cultural and religious influences, there are differences on what’s moral; however, there's also a global commonness. Last week, the wives of ambassadors of several countries sent a message to the spouse of the Syrian President asking her to intervene to end the killing of civilians and suppression of civil liberty. It’s certainly immoral to threaten, torture or kill innocent people; as well as doing nothing to stop it when you’re in a position to do so.

We aren’t all international figures, political leaders and CEOs; but since we’re at least a parent, family member, friend, neighbour, colleague, employee or employer, let’s consider the consequences of all our decisions and actions on others and not just on ourselves. The boomerang effects of poor and immoral decisions don’t recognise gender differences: they stifle success, depress individuals, kill aspirations and lead to deaths. For instance, don’t make a promise that you can’t keep; take what’s not yours; cheat on clients….

(selected paragraphs from my website BRolade Societal Blog - roladesocietalblog.com)

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