By NZISM Secretary


Kia ora koutou to all members and supporters of NZISM.

Tickets were released recently for the 2019 Roadshow featuring Dr Todd Conklin, and they started to get snapped up straight away with a good number being sold on day one, confirming that this will be a well-attended event. The Auckland branch CPD day is nearing capacity and the Dunedin and Southland branches are currently in discussions with the Agriculture Leaders Health and Safety Action Group to run a mini road show targeted at the Ag sector in the southern part of the country. These events along with the recent and future webinars reflect the huge range of CPD opportunities that are available to members across the country.

Continuing my theme of leadership and more specifically getting to know yourself, I want to talk about ethics. Most professional associations have a code of conduct or a code of professional ethics. I don’t want to talk specifically about the NZISM’s Code of Professional Ethics, what I want to share with you is about getting to know more about your own ethical compass.

So, what are your belief systems? From a philosophical perspective there are four belief systems, being Idealism, Naturalism (sometimes known as Realism), Pragmatism and Existentialism. As with all “systems”, philosophy systems are made of multiple parts which each rely on the other to function. In philosophy the system is made up of metaphysics, this asks the question “What is real”? another aspect of the system is Epistemology, which asks “What is true”? and finally there is Axiology which asks, “What is good or bad”?

For the purposes of this brief discussion around ethics the focus will be on metaphysics being the fundamental component of philosophy, the “what is real” question, the answer to which is different for everyone.

The idealist Reality

Idealist worldview is that goodness is found in the concept of conformity to an idea. If a law states, you should “ALWAYS” tell the truth then that is what an idealist would do. Idealist’s judge solely on the action and not the result of the action. It may be that an idealist could make a decision to not tell the truth, this would be on the basis that telling a lie would be the lesser of two evils. See the alternative approach in the section on pragmatism.

The Naturalist (Realist) Reality

A naturalist worldview is more about the physical, material or natural thing, as opposed to the Idealist who is more about the idea than a physical thing. Physical things are governed by the laws of nature, a primary example being the laws of cause and effect.

Pragmatic Reality

The pragmatist worldview is very different and hard to describe, this worldview doesn’t include the idea (Idealist) or the physical (Naturalist) views. The pragmatist is more about the experience or the process, it’s about constant change. From an ethical perspective the pragmatists view is that moral judgements should not be based on the action, but the outcome of that action, the end justifies the means. The pragmatist also believes the whole system is more valuable than the individual parts, therefore values the wisdom of a group over the wisdom of one person and also what is best for the greatest number of people.

Existentialistic Reality

In contrast the existentialist also believes that change is a constant, differently from the Pragmatist view that reality is defined by the individual, meaning that anything is only true for each individual

person. Existentialist live a life on purpose, they make decisions with an end in mind, their identity is the product of their own choices, not the choices of society, law or perfection.

This isn’t intended to be a lesson on philosophy, there isn’t enough time or space. The point is, do you understand how you make your ethical decisions, or maybe why you make them? If you’re an existentialist, not making a decision, is a decision in itself.

Some of you may have been involved in various group exercises where a question is posed and you are asked to make a decision on that question based on your ethical views, one such question from history is shown below.

It is time to elect the world leader, and yours is the deciding vote. Here are the facts about the three leading candidates:

* Candidate A: Associates with crooked politicians and consults with astrologers. Has had two mistresses. Chain smokes and drinks up to ten Martinis a day.

* Candidate B: A decorated war hero. Is a vegetarian, doesn't smoke, drinks an occasional beer and hasn't had any extra-marital affairs.

* Candidate C: Was ejected from office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks large amounts of whisky every evening.

Make a decision on your vote and then go to the end of the blog to find out who your new leader is.

There is a simple 7 question test that can be applied to determine ethical decision making:

1. Is the action legal? If the answer is no, then end the test – and decision – stops here.

2. Does it comply with your values? If it doesn’t fit, don’t do it.

3. If you do it, will you feel bad? The appeal to individual conscience – can you live with it?

4. How will it look in the newspaper? If it were to go public tomorrow, would you do it today?

5. If you know it’s wrong, don’t do it.

6. If you’re not sure, ask.

7. Keep asking until you get an answer.

A recent Worksafe prosecution highlighted the impact on a business that had relied on information from their health and safety advisor who was operating out of their depth (refer Safeguard issue 173), and if you want an honest appraisal of ethics and professionalism within a membership organisation, hunt out the article “CTV and Ethics” by Susan Freeman-Greene, Chief Executive of Engineering NZ. With all of this in mind, I do want to point to one aspect of the NZISM Code of Professional Ethics, that being the various references to operating within the limits of your own abilities and competencies. Be clear on what those limits are and make ethical decisions. Get to know your ethical inventory to better understand how and why you make decisions that you do.

Some of you may be aware that the next World Congress on Safety and Health at work is being held from 4th to the 7th October 2020 in Toronto Canada, see www.safety2020canada.com. If there are any NZISM members who are interested in attending this event we are looking to make up a group and attend the event together. In the past there have been discounts applied to tickets for INSHPO member associations so hopefully that will be the case again in 2020. If you are interested in attending, get in touch with me directly and we can set up a communications network

Reflecting again on the four dimensions of leadership, another of which is Coaching, a key component of Coaching is support or “Tautoko” as is echoed in the following whakataukī (pearl of wisdom) of “Waiho i toipoto kaua i te toiroa” or “Let us keep close together, not far apart”

Nga mihi nui

Greg Dearsly

If you wish to contact me, please do so by email at president@nzism.org

Candidate A was Franklin D. Roosevelt, Candidate B was Adolph Hitler and Candidate C was Winston Churchill.