Personal Ethical Action Plan



One of the core assumptions regarding ethics in this course is that it is not a matter of if you will face an ethical dilemma, but when.  Moreover, it is easier to respond the way you want in such a situation if you are prepared ahead of time.

Therefore, the purpose of this assignment is to help you prepare yourself by developing a “personal ethical action plan.” This plan is based on your self-analysis of core concepts associated with ethics, and how they associate with your ability to choose an ethical course of action when faced with an ethical dilemma.

Your assignment is to write a paper that incorporates your self-assessment into a personal ethical action plan (i.e., how you will prepare yourself for responding in the face of an ethical dilemma).  Please observes the following guidelines:

  1. Do not include a cover page or table of contents, just put your name at top of first page.
  2. Make sure to include an introduction and conclusion.
  3. Be sure to include transitions between the parts of the Personal Ethical Action Plan so that it reads as one cohesive paper rather than six independent assignment
  4. Follow the conventions of good writing.  See the WRITER’S TOOLBOX module in our Canvas page for guidance.
  5. You are required to cite at least two outside sources in addition to the Giving Voice to Values book.
    1. All sources should be cited in-text and a full reference provided at the end of the document per APA 6th format.
    2. Be sure to follow appropriate rules regarding quotation and citation (see Academic Dishonesty section of the course syllabus).
  6. Single space your document and use 12-point font.


You should draw the material for your analysis from topics and issues covered in class.  You will need to supplement your writing with additional research/resources such as the Giving Voice to Values (GVV) book. This and other sources must be cited in-text and then a full reference provided at the end of the paper using APA format. Below I provide a recommended reading schedule for the GVV book so that it will best help you to complete this assignment.


The final paper consists of six parts, which will be turned in at two points in time during the term. Each of the six parts must be at least 500 words minimum. The first time you submit the assignment you will submit parts one through four. The second and final time you submit the assignment you will submit revised versions of parts one through four and then add parts five and six.  The six parts are detailed on the following pages.

PART 1: My Core Values

In this part, you will list and discuss your core values.  Be sure to:

  • Complete the assignments “Funeral Exercise” and “5 People 5 Attributes” from the video presentation from Week 2. Include these completed exercises in an appendix (at the very end of the assignment)
  • Read chapters 1 and 2 from Giving Voice to Values.
  • Drawing from what you learned during these assignments and readings about what you value most in life, and what you hope to accomplish in it, describe your core values in detail. Dedicate at least one paragraph to each of the core values describe how you came to identify each core value and its importance to you (refer to the “Funeral Exercise” and “5 people 5 attributes” exercises as appropriate) and how you envision them helping you in future ethical dilemmas.

PART 2: A Tale of Two Stories

In this part you will tell two stories – one where you acted in accordance with your values and one where you did not.  Be sure to:

  • Read Chapters 3 and 4 from GVV in order to complete this part of the assignment
  • Complete the exercise entitled “Tale of Two Stories” (available in PDF format in the Personal Ethical Action Plan module of Canvas).
  • Write up each of the two stories into a one paragraph summary (you can include a longer-form version of the stories in the appendix if you would like) and include in your Personal Ethical Action Plan.
  • Answer the questions asked in the “Tale of Two Stories” exercise and include them after the stories in essay (paragraph) format.

PART 3: Your Professional Purpose

In this part you will describe your professional purpose.  Be sure to:

  • Review and answer each of the questions from the Personal Purpose section of the Key Self-Assessment Questions in the Giving Voice to Values book (pgs. 116-117). You do not need to answer them individually, you will address them in the last bullet below.
  • Craft a statement of professional purpose: 1 to 2 sentences
  • Expand upon this overall statement of professional purpose by addressing each of the self-assessment questions in essay (paragraph) format (not in Q&A format)

PART 4: Your Self Story

Write a self-story that allows you to align what you think is right with who you already think you are. These self-stories should be broad enough that they could be used in a variety of situations where your morality or ethics are challenged. Think of a way of explaining why your values and morals are important to you and why it would be difficult for you to go against them in the workplace. Unlike the Tale of Two Stories, this section is intended to be used in actual ethical dilemmas in the future.

A successful self-story typically takes one of two forms:

  1. A description of a particularly vivid past experience that cemented within you a firm desire to follow your values or taught you the importance of your own values.
  2. An origin story of your values that helps explain why they are so important to you.

Either of these options could be utilized to successfully create a self-story that can be used in the workplace to defend your values-based choices

When doing this part be sure to:

  • Read chapter 6 from GVV.
  • Start the section with a discussion of the types of ethical dilemmas you can expect to face given your professional purpose.
    • Remember transitions: “Building off of my professional purpose…here are some of the types of ethical dilemmas I might face…”
  • Then lead into your discussion of a story that you could use when faced with these ethical dilemmas
    • “It’s important to have a script for how to respond when your values are questions, so I’ve come up with the following…”
  • Write the story out exactly how you could envision yourself saying it to a boss or coworker in a memo or formal email.

PART 5: Self Assessment Regarding Voice

This exercise builds on what you learned in Part 2 (A Tale of Two Stories) but asks you to speak more broadly to the tendencies you have shown in terms of voicing up.

When doing this part be sure to:

  • Read chapter 7 of GVV
  • Revisit the personal communication style questions from the Key Self-Assessment Questions in the Giving Voice to Values book (pgs. 116-117)
  • Ask yourself: When do you take a stand?
    • What are the issues that you just can’t stay silent on?
    • What is the ideal context for your to voice your views?
  • Ask yourself: How do you usually speak up?
    • What’s your style when speaking up?
    • Who do you speak to? The group? One on one?
    • Which method of communication best suits your style?

PART 6: Reasons and Rationalizations

This section is all about foreseeing the various reasons and rationalizations you might be tempted to not voice your values. This is an important step in the development of your Personal Ethical Action Plan because oftentimes our own thoughts are what keep us from speaking up. We can increase the likelihood of our speaking up by foreseeing the potential reasons and rationalizations we might use and plan ahead of time how we will overcome these potentially silencing thoughts.

When doing this part be sure to:

  • Read chapter 8 of GVV.
  • Identify specific rationalizations you use. What are those you hear others around you use? Think of specific examples.
  • How do you intend to counteract those rationalizations listed above?.
  • Give some serious thought to this, it is actually very difficult to overcome our human tendency to rationalize inaction. How will you overcome it?
    • Name specific biases and rationalizations that might come into play.


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