While values are the foundation of ethical behavior, an ethical decision-making process lends clarity to difficult situations. Following the process guides decision-makers through problems to reach a workable solution. Using this model helps avoid unethical alternatives and unattractive consequences.

Generally, a decision-making process should include the steps shown in the diagram below. Here are some definitions to help you work through the steps:

  • Facts: The answers to who, what, when, where, why, and how. Be careful about jumping to conclusions or making assumptions.
  • Ethical Issue: The ethical question to be resolved. Try to stick with one issue at a time.
  • Stakeholders: The people and organizations that may be impacted by your actions. Think about their perspectives.
  • Ethical Framework: A code or set or rules that can be used to make decisions. Of course, there are many disagreements about which framework to use! Read more about ethics frameworks here.

Using these definitions, the following diagram can help organize your thinking to walk through a problem with care to reach a good and ethical decision.