Recently I read about a study by Dr. Andrew Hussey of the University of Memphis concerning the correlation of ethical standards and wages.  The results revealed some odd disparities related to both ethics and gender.

According to the study, male business professionals embracing a high ethical standard earned 3.4% less than those not embracing a high ethical standard.  To make matters worse, the men who completed MBA programs that strengthened their ethical standards earned 6.5% less than their peers who completed MBA programs that did not strengthen their ethical standards.

Now, switch to the females and it gets even more interesting.  Female business professionals embracing a high ethical standard experienced no wage penalty.  The females who completed ethics-enhancing MBA programs earned 5.5% more than their peers who completed non-ethics-enhancing MBA programs.

So, how and why do we have almost opposite results purely based on gender?  The data about ethical commitment was self-reported.  That process might weaken the reliability and accuracy of the results.  Nevertheless, whether the self-reported data is correct or not, we are still left with a gender-based disparity.

All that said, let’s get back to the equally interesting conclusion (at least for the men); if you espouse high ethical standards, then your wages will be lower.  Is this because there are too many decision makers who subconsciously reward unethical behavior?  Is this because the highly ethical male may unwittingly come across as inflexible and therefore deemed a less valuable contributor?  Is it possible males and females intrinsically view ethics in fundamentally different ways?

I don’t know the answers, but I think the questions are fascinating.  The subject is definitely worthy of continued study.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Johnson Controls at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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