Guy’s Ten Core Values

Guy’s Ten Core Values (1990)

Guy has also identified ten core values as ‘guideposts for ethical decision making’ – the values and principles on which she builds her framework model.

Caring means treating people as ends in themselves, not as means to an end. It means having compassion, treating people courteously and with dignity, helping those in need and avoiding harm to others.

Honesty means being truthful and not deceiving or distorting. In the long run, there is usually less advantage and more harm to being dishonest than to being honest. One by one, deceptions undermine the capacity for open exchange and erode credibility. Individuals who lose their reputation for truthfulness usually cannot accomplish very much.

Accountability means accepting the consequences of one’s actions and accepting the responsibility for one’s decisions and their consequences. This means setting an example for others and avoiding even the appearance of impropriety.

Promise keeping means keeping one’s commitments. When promises have been made, they are supported by the fact that the obligation to keep promises is among the most important of generally accepted obligations. Promises and agreements to stakeholders create expectations of performance and establish obligations.

Pursuit of excellence means striving to be as good as one can be. It means being diligent, industrious and committed. It means being well informed and well prepared. It is not enough to be content with mediocrity, but it is also not right to win “at any cost”.

Loyalty means being faithful and loyal to those with whom one has dealings. This means safeguarding the ability to make independent professional judgments by scrupulously avoiding undue influence and conflicts of interest. But loyalty is not an unmitigated good. It depends to whom and for what purpose or reason the loyalty is given. Blind obedience is thoughtless and does not prepare a decision-maker to weigh the values in question and make the best decision.

Fairness means being open-minded, willing to admit an error; not overreaching or taking undue advantage of another’s adversities; avoiding arbitrary or capricious favouritism. It means treating people equally and making decisions based on notions of justice.

Integrity means using independent judgement and avoiding conflicts of interest, restraining from self-aggrandisement and resisting economic pressure. It means being faithful to one’s deepest beliefs, acting on one’s conviction and not adopting an ends-justifies-the-means philosophy that ignores principle.

Responsible citizenship means that actions should be in accord with societal values. All high officials, whether in government or business, have at least some degree of discretion (and many have a great deal). Appropriate standards for the exercise of this discretion must be practiced. Within government, both legislative and executive judgment ought to reflect the will of the people in accord with democratic values. Public servants have a special obligation to lead by example, to safeguard and advance the integrity and reputation of the legislative process, and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. In both government and business it is important to obey just laws. If a law is unjust, it should be protested through accepted means… (Guy 1990, pp.14-17).

Respect for others means recognising each person’s right to privacy and self-determination and having respect for human dignity. It means being courteous, prompt, decent and providing others with information they need to make informed decisions.

There may, at times, be a conflict of moral duty to provide information and to maintain confidentiality. This is a real dilemma, which has to be resolved in terms of which party has the greatest moral claim, e.g., respecting the confidentiality to a client or friend, or operating in the public interest by revealing the information.

This raises the distinction of being ethically responsible to or for. Thus, a professional person is responsible to a client but is not ethically responsible for a client. The client, respected as an autonomous person, has the right to make the ethical decision based on the advice provided by his or her professional adviser. In this way a professional person can maintain the duty of responsibility of confidentiality but also act in a correct ethical manner. If the client does not accept the advice of the professional person, then he or she should seriously consider resigning from the assignment as his or her professional independence is likely to be seriously impaired.

Guy states that her ten core values are ‘ethical standards that have survived the ages’. She adds that they also provide ‘…benchmarks for ethical decision making’.

When put into practice, she states, they promote the virtues of ‘moderation, order, resolution, industriousness, sincerity and humility’.


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