This Week in PR Ethics (12/31): Top Ethics Quotes 2020

At the end of every EthicalVoices podcast I share an ethics quote from history that has inspired me, touched me or caused me to think. Since many of you read the blog and don’t listen to the podcast, I wanted to share 42 top quotes from my 2020 podcasts. Enjoy! And here is looking forward to a great 2021.

  1. “A man is truly ethical only when he obeys the compulsion to help all life which he is able to assist and shrinks from injuring anything that lives.” – Albert Schweitzer
  2. “A man should make all he can and give all he can.” – Nelson Rockefeller
  3. “A person may cause evil to others, not only by his actions, but by his inaction. And in either case, he is just the accountable to them for the injury.” – John Stuart Mill
  4. “Action, indeed is the sole medium of expression for ethics.” – Jane Adams
  5. “Always do what is right. It will gratify half of mankind, and astound the other.” – Mark Twain
  6. “As Plato insisted 2,000 years ago, it is not by means of the image that moral, ethical, or political knowledge is produced.” – Abigail Solomon-Godeau
  7. “Associate with men of good quality, if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than to be in bad company.” – George Washington
  8. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation because your character is what you really are. While your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden
  9. “Before I can live with other people, I have to live with myself.” – Harper Lee
  10. “Caring requires paying attention, seeing, listening, and responding with respect. It’s logic is contextual and psychological. Care is a relational ethic grounded in a premise of interdependence, but it is not selfless.” – Carol Gilligan
  11. “Don’t find a fault, find a remedy. Anybody can complain.” – Henry Ford
  12. “Good leadership requires you to surround yourself with people of diverse perspectives who can disagree with you without fear of retaliation.” – Doris Kearns Goodwin
  13. “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” – Thomas Jefferson
  14. “I prefer to win titles with the team before individual prices or out scoring everyone. I’m more concerned with being a good person than being the best footballer in the world.” – Lionel Messi
  15. “If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover precious values, that all reality hinges on moral foundations.” – Martin Luther King Jr
  16. “Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people.” – Spencer Johnson
  17. “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings.” – Ann Landers
  18. “Not just life, but good life is to be valued.” – Socrates
  19. “Only one rule in medical ethics need concern you, that action on your part, which best can serve as the interest of your patients.” – Martin Fischer
  20. “Ordinary acts of love and hope point to the extraordinary promise that every human life is of inestimable value.” – Desmond Tutu
  21. “Subtlety may deceive you, but integrity never will.” – Oliver Cromwell
  22. “Successful companies of the future will be those that integrate business and employee’s personal values. The best people want to do work that contributes to society with a company whose values they share, where their actions count and their views matter.” – Vanderveer
  23. “Tell me who you walk with, and I’ll tell you who you are.” – Spanish Proverb
  24. “The basic skills of leaders are all the same. Be driven by a deeper purpose, be a human being, have a passion for what you do, work hard and have ethics.” – Paul Pullman
  25. “The best mirror is an old friend.” – George Herbert
  26. “The courage to speak on moral or ethical issues and to take an ethical position becomes a greater imperative every day. With demonstrated commitment and a sense of ethics that works full-time, ethical behavior must be exemplified and modeled by the leader.” – Frances Hesselbein
  27. “The most important human endeavor is the striving for morality in our actions, our inner balance, and even our very existence depend on it. Only morality in our actions can give beauty and dignity to life.” – Albert Einstein
  28. “The real threat to business is from within, from poor ethical standards and lack of integrity that can do incalculable harm. History has proven repeatedly that business ethics, shared value and corporate governance determine the longevity of an enterprise.” – Azim Premji
  29. “There are two ways to influence human behavior you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.” – Simon Sinek
  30. “There is no such thing as a minor lapse of integrity.” – Tom Peters
  31. “Those who climb the corporate ladder of lies and deception will sooner or later fall off the shaky steps.” – Khang Nguyen
  32. “Who questions much, shall learn much, and retain much.” – Francis Bacon
  33. “Without ethical culture, there is no salvation for humanity.” – Albert Einstein
  34. “Wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it, and right is right, even if no one is doing it.” – William Penn
  35. “Your actions define your character, your words define your wisdom, but your treatment of others defines the real you.” – Mayur Ramgir
  36. “You’re responsible for everything you tweet, and everything you retweet.” – Germany Kent
  37. “Ethics or simple honesty is the building block upon which our whole society is based. And business is a part of society. It’s integral to the practice of being able to conduct business, that you have a set of honest ethical standards.” – Carrie Stokes
  38. “It takes less time to do things right and ethically, than to explain why you did it wrong.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  39. “Like every other human institutional endeavor, justice is an ongoing process. It is never done, never fully achieved. Each decade each year, each month, indeed each day brings us new challenges. Let’s go forth and meet these challenges this week and beyond.” – Beverly McLachlin.
  40. “Tell me what you pay attention to and I will tell you who you are.” – Jose Ortega y Gasset
  41. Information is the oil of the 21st century and ethical analytics is the combustion engine – Peter Sondergaard (paraphrased)
  42. Success will come and go, but integrity is forever.
Mark McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA
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Mark W. McClennan, APR, Fellow PRSA, is the general manager of C+C's Boston office. C+C is a communications agency all about the good and purpose-driven brands. He has more than 20 years of tech and fintech agency experience, served as the 2016 National Chair of PRSA, drove the creation of the PRSA Ethics App and is the host of


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