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Ethics, Responsibility and Sustainability: Schwartz Values Survey


In all people’s lives, there are many critical points where they have to make an ethical decision. From time to time, everyone becomes a part of the moral choices of other persons, and some of them may or may not have an influence on one’s life. Precisely these experiences and dilemmas help to shape who we are and become a part of our ethical journeys. Ethics is a specific tool that guides people throughout their personal lives and business operations. It helps humans distinguish between right and wrong actions and teaches how to resist the last. As there may be specific tension between a person’s own interests and the interests of others, ethics is the key to make a proper choice (Reis, 2010).

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Another essential tool is people’s values that may be shaped by early experiences, religion, traditions, family, culture and other external factors (Illes and Vogell, 2018). Schwartz Circumplex Model helps to learn one’s most important values. Finally, to be able to make the right personal and business decisions, it is also necessary to consider responsibility and sustainability. The first concept reminds people that they are responsible for their actions that may have either positive or negative results. Sustainability makes sure that people and nature can co-exist, and future generations will not be deprived of necessary resources because of the unconscious consumption of modern people. In this paper, I will discuss my ethical journey and the way my values and ideas about responsibility, ethics and sustainability are reflected in it.


The main influences that shape my values and vision of life are my family, past experiences and mistakes, global events and tendencies and the example of other people. For instance, in my childhood, my parents and I used to watch the news together. Although I was small and did not understand everything I saw or heard in those moments, it was my favourite time of the day. I watched my parents rejoice over positive events that meant a lot for our country or the whole world. However, upon hearing the sad news, mainly concerning wars and conflicts, my mother and father were upset and heatedly discussed what had happened. They told me that violence could not solve anything, and one must not make someone suffer even for the welfare of an entire country.

I believe that my parents have significantly influenced my values, and now I consider the safety of my family and friends and the world piece the most crucial concepts. It is evident that this experience has been a part of my ethical journey, and now universalism and security values are important to me. At the same time, the ability to express myself and have freedom of action is also necessary for me.

Analysis of Ideas Relevant to Ethics and Business Responsibility and Sustainability

In my opinion, ethics is of vital importance for all people who want to live a good life and have fewer decisions and choices they can regret about. Ethics is necessary to distinguish between right and wrong actions and be able to learn how to resist the last. As it is impossible to always do the right thing in the opinion of absolutely everyone around, a person should understand how ethical the next step may be. Moreover, as there may be specific tension between a person’s own interests and the interests of others, ethics and values are the keys to make a proper choice.

Apart from our personal lives, ethics also applies to the world of business. Precisely ethics should be the guiding star of organisations’ practises and lead all employees and employers to the application of values within a working context (Hartman, DesJardins and MacDonald, 2014, p. 2). As the influence and power of businesses in society are greater than ever before, it is vital for them to stick to the ethical decision-making process (Crane and Matten, 2010).

As for values, they also play an incredibly important role in all spheres of life. Overall, they are a particular set of goals and beliefs that serve as guiding principles in a person’s life (Ralston et al., 2011). According to Sagiv et al. (2017, p. 2), “personal values are subjective in nature and reflect what people think and state about themselves,” which means that it is possible to understand human behaviour by exploring personal values. Due to the subjectiveness of the values, it is evident that for each person, they are shaped by many factors, including early influences, family and culture (Ralston et al., 2011). Typically, values are reinforced through the ethical decisions people make or not make. Finally, values are the root of our identity, and our identity is at the heart of our sensemaking (Rokeach, 1968).

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Responsibility and sustainability are also essential concepts that are necessary both in personal and business lives. Responsibility defines people’s decisions and whether the rights and choices of other persons are respected. It helps to minimise harm and maximise the good of our actions (Kolk and Van Tulder, 2010). As for sustainability, it is useful in finding the balance between people, planet and overall profit (Kolk and Van Tulder, 2010). This concept also assists in defining a goal and appropriate approach to its achievement.

Schwartz Values Survey

Schwartz Circumplex Model.
Figure 1. Schwartz Circumplex Model.

Table 1. Values Analysis.

From the 13 individual level marker values chosen in your SVS exercise, which three values mean the most to you? Why do you believe this value is important to you? Reflect on a moment in your life when you really lived this value. What behaviour did you exhibit that supports the value? How does this value links with your sensemaking of ethics, responsibility and sustainability?
Family security, safety for loved ones is a priority. When I was a kid, I saw my father protecting my mother and me from everything that could have hurt our health or feelings. When I realised that COVID-19 started threatening my family, I immediately stopped seeing my friends. Responsibility and ethics concern one’s own actions as well as their duty to make sure other people do not suffer.
I need to have freedom of action and thoughts. When I am forbidden to do something, I have even more desire to break this ban and do it anyway. I stopped talking to my best friend because she used to judge my clothes and hobbies and tried to convince me to change my lifestyle. Ethics, responsibility and sustainability are aimed at allowing everyone to make their own choices. Even if mistakes are made, it is one’s responsibility to correct it.
I want to see a world at peace, free of war and conflict. I believe that this value is essential to me as it is connected with the importance of family security. About ten years ago, I saw a group of people beating a young man just in front of our house and rushed to help him because I realised the injustice of their actions. Regardless of the situation, violence is not the right choice, and the person’s responsibility is to find another solution.

Photograph Description and Analysis

My favourite photograph depicts my family’s house – the place I used to live for many years. I believe that this picture is personally exceptional for me since my home is connected to my values. To begin with, my ideas, thoughts, dreams, and goals were initially shaped at my home, and my parents have never deprived me of freedom of choice and self-expression. Further, it was in my own home that I always felt safe and knew that nothing threatened my family either. Since this is one of my core values, it is quite easy to understand the importance of my home to me.


To draw a conclusion, one may say that ethics, values, responsibility and sustainability are those concepts that have a significant influence on the positivity, fairness and openness of this world. Without these four factors, an extended number of adverse events would happen every day as people would not have a guiding star to be navigated by. Moreover, since early experiences typically shape our values, it is of vital importance to provide kids with a happy childhood. If people focus on this objective, further generations will be more kind to each other, and both personal and business lives will become brighter and more successful.

Reference List

Crane, A. and Matten, D. (2010) Business ethics: managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalisation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hartman, L.P., DesJardins, J.R. and MacDonald, C. (2014) Business ethics: decision-making for personal integrity and social responsibility. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Illes, K. and Vogell, C. (2018) ‘Corporate values from a personal perspective’, Social Responsibility Journal, 14(2), pp 351-367.

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Kolk, A. and Van Tulder, R. (2010). ‘International business, corporate social responsibility and sustainable development’, International Business Review, 19(2), pp.119-125.

Ralston, D.A. et al. (2011) ‘A twenty-first century assessment of values across the global workforce’, Journal of Business Ethics, 104, pp. 1-31.

Reis, C. (2010) ‘Sensemaking of managers’ ethical work orientations’, Social Responsibility Journal, 6(1), pp. 143-155.

Rokeach, M. (1968) ‘A theory of organisation and change within value‐attitude systems’, Journal of Social Issues, 24(1), pp. 13-33.

Sagiv, L. et al. (2017) ‘Personal values in human life’, Nature Human Behaviour, 1(9), pp. 1-41.

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