Making an Ethical Decision

Have a difficult decision to make?

Every day members of the USM community face difficult decisions. When taking action, or observing someone else's actions, consider the following diagram to help you better understand the next step to undertake.*


*USM offers multiple options to raise a concern or ask for help. A few options are to contact your supervisor or other management, the Office of Compliance and Ethics, Internal Audit, Office of General Counsel, Human Resources, or the Compliance and Ethics Helpline (anonymously if desired).

As the image below indicates, one must ask themselves several questions to determine how best to proceed. 

 Question One:  Is the action they are contemplating undertaking legal?  

  • Proceed to act based on your answer to the above-referenced question. 

  • If the answer is yes, proceed to question two.

  • If you are unsure about the answer, ask for help.  

  • If the answer is no, do not proceed because there may be serious consequences for the individual and the University.  The individual should contact the Office of Compliance and Ethics for other options. 

Question Two:  If the action is legal, the individual must ask themselves if it aligns with the Universities' values and policies?

  • If the answer is yes, proceed to question three.

  • If you are unsure about the answer, ask for help. 

  • If the answer is no, do not proceed because there may be serious consequences for the individual and the University.  The individual should contact the Office of Compliance and Ethics for other options. 

Question Three:  Would you feel comfortable if others knew about it?
  • If the answer is yes, proceed to question four.

  • If you are unsure about the answer, ask for help. If the answer is no, do not proceed because there may be serious consequences for the individual and the University.  The individual should contact the Office of Compliance and Ethics for other options. 

  • If the answer is no, do not proceed because there may be serious consequences for the individual and the University. 
Question Four:  Would you want to read about it in tomorrow's news?
  • If the answer is yes, then proceed with taking the action you are contemplating. 
  • If you are unsure about the answer, ask for help.
  • If the answer is no, do not proceed because there may be serious consequences for the individual and the University. 

END OF QUESTIONS