Bruce Weinstein, aka The Ethics Guy, is a syndicated columnist, author, and CNN commentator reporting on our struggles to maintain integrity.

Does business encourage certain kinds of dishonesty?
We shouldn’t blame institutions for our own poor choices. It is possible, however, that certain business practices­ encourage unethical conduct. If the sales force is threatened­ with termination if they don’t sell X amount, or if an elaborate reward goes to reps who sell the most, employees may get the message, “Do whatever’s necessary to make the sale.” Pressure to increase profits for the quarter, rather than the long term, can lead to fudging balance sheets and lying to shareholders.

Why should business people care about ethics?
Taking the high road benefits us in the long run. Treating clients fairly generates good word of mouth, which brings in more business. Unethical conduct isn’t just wrong — it can lead to PR nightmares, a drop in business, or even the end of the business altogether.

Do business people have trouble making ethical decisions these days?
In most work situations, we know the right thing to do. The problem is not intellectual, but moral: Do we have the courage to do the right thing?