A paper was published this week that has me thinking about ethics and trust in professional settings. I began to wonder which professions are more trustworthy than others. Being an equal opportunity critic of wrongdoing, I tried to come up with a list of different roles and how I would relate them on this type of scale. Here’s the list in alphabetical order:
- Used Car Salespeople
I spent quite a bit of time thinking about this. You might find my ranking of trustworthiness somewhat surprising. I have one caveat though before proceeding. I realize that there are both good and bad apples in every profession, so this has more to do with expectations. Here’s my thinking today in the order of most trustworthy to least trustworthy:
- Used Car Salespeople
So why this order? Why do I hold clergy and physicians so low on my list, especially when traditionally untrusted professions are higher?
Grocers are on the top because there really isn’t any room for corruption or misrepresentation of what they are selling for the most part. They don’t have a poor reputation and they don’t have an opportunity to get one, at least on the retail level. I can’t say the same for the food industry, but that’s a different topic. If you are interested though, you might want to start with a documentary.
The next one is probably a bit of a surprise, especially given the bad reputation that most people in used car sales have. That’s exactly why they are higher on the list. Because of the fact that most people go into a transaction with them having expectations of shady dealings, they actually have a chance to get treated well because they go in with open eyes about what is ahead.
It gets a little cloudier after that. Attorneys can either be good or bad. Some people have a healthy amount of skepticism about them, others don’t. That’s why they rank lower. It’s sometimes hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.
So why do clergy and physicians fall to the bottom? It’s because people put the most trust in them but they have some of the worst abuses in their ranks. The clergy is rife with physical, emotional, spiritual, and sexual abuse. Most people are primarily familiar with this among the ranks of Catholic priests because of the media attention they have received recently. However, there is a considerable amount in Protestant ranks that is coming to light more and more. It’s an unspoken evil that needs to be rooted out.
What about physicians though? How can they be at the bottom of the list as well? It’s the same reasons. A great deal of trust is put into their hands about looking out for the health of their patients. Unfortunately, there are a number of instances where physicians put prestige or money over the best interests of patients. I’ve seen that both in the press and in first hand experiences. This posting is really a prelude to a much lengthier discussion about that to follow.