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Being Legal, Honest, And Candid And …

Richard M. Steinberg | July 24, 2007

As a Compliance Week reader, you know well the difference between taking an action that’s legal and one that’s ethical. “Legal,” of course, includes acting according to written laws and related regulations, as well as what is deemed legally correct by the judicial system. Acting ethically involves going beyond what is legal, focusing on principles of correct moral conduct. Much has been written about the distinction, and there are other definitions, but we need not get into further detail here.

A distinction that has received significantly less attention, at least within management and governance circles, is contrasting honesty and candor. I came across a blurb in a recent New York Times article (for those who want to look it up, it’s in the June 16, 2007, business section, “What's Offline”) where honesty, it says, “has been downgraded to mere compliance with contracts and laws,” which is “a demand too easily...

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