Can you put a price on ethics?

by Paul Cowhig, Advisor, Professional Standards

Recently my brother Michael (pictured above) invited me to a Rotary luncheon where The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, MP for the riding of Vancouver Granville was the guest speaker. The topic was “Ethics in Politics.”

How could I resist? As it happened, I shared a table with the guest speaker herself.

Ms. Wilson-Raybould didn’t really talk much about ethics in politics other than to say that all the major parties are pretty much the same in terms of expecting their MPs to do what they’re told.  Despite the conflict of interest scandal and her fallout with the Prime Minister, she is clearly proud of her accomplishments while serving in the government.

‘Every person has value…every life matters’

What she spoke more about was her background, who she is, and where she comes from, both literally and philosophically. She spoke of her upbringing, her beliefs and the critical importance of everyone doing their part, whatever that part may be.

Wilson-Raybould was raised in the Wewaikai First Nation community on Vancouver Island and the lessons she learned at home and in her community are deliberately reflected in the way she lives her life.

She shared with us that, in her community, every person has value. Every life matters, in part because every person has a unique contribution to make.

Wilson-Raybould said, “When you fall down or do bad things, when you don’t contribute and do your part, the entire community is diminished.”

It seems so obvious when you hear it said out loud. It’s a deliberate shouldering of taking personal responsibility for who you are. That attitude then influences your relationships, how you perform your job and participate in the community. There is a lesson for us in what she says.

Sticking to your ethics can cost you. It cost Wilson-Raybould her job as Attorney General of Canada, a place in the Cabinet as the Minister of Justice, and ultimately her membership in the Liberal Party. 

“So be it. I can look in the mirror and not blush,” she says, on reflection.

There is also a cost for REALTORS® who stray from ethics, which can mean losing the confidence of your colleagues, your clients, the public and potentially your license, your Board membership, your business, and worst of all, your reputation and self-respect. 

The meaning of our Code

As individuals we need to shoulder the responsibilities we take on as REALTORS® and, in order to do that, we need to understand and embrace what those responsibilities are.

As REALTORS®, we commit to this pledge:

  • Professional competent service – That means we will not work beyond our area of knowledge and ability.
  • Absolute honesty and integrity in business dealings – It means that we don’t take shortcuts to skirt the rules or take advantage of others to benefit ourselves.
  • Utmost civility – This means that regardless of whether we like a person, or something we want is at stake, we treat all people with respect, dignity and compassion.
  • Co-operation with and fairness to all – This means we work with others to reach common goals and when our goals differ, we maintain our ethics and do what we know is right, all while doing the best for our client.
  • Personal accountability through compliance with CREA’s Standards of Business Practice. The rules are there for a reason, and so we know the rules, we respect them, and agree to be bound by them.

Having a code of conduct is like having a map. It helps us get to where we want to be. It gives direction to our actions. It helps to keep us on track.   And it says that we deliberately and consciously commit to a high standard which makes all of us better.