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LP101: A Successful Loss Prevention Career Requires Walking the Ethical Path

Building a successful loss prevention career has always been predicated on the commitment to professional growth and development. Working in a business as dynamic as retail, it is essential that we remain flexible in our methods and progressive in our approach to a global retail market. As the business moves forward change comes quickly, and our skills and abilities must evolve to meet the needs and expectations of a new professional standard.

For those in the loss prevention career field, we often treat issues in terms of black and white – right or wrong. It’s simple, direct and to the point. However, we don’t live in a black and white world. Not only are there countless shades of gray, but there is also a tremendous spectrum of colors that we must venture through every day that will influence the picture that we see. Often the right path is easy to see; but there are other times when right and wrong are hidden in the kaleidoscope of possibilities. Sometimes people do this on purpose—a process that we refer to as “self-justification” or “self-rationalization” where they bend the light of truth to fit their own needs. Other times, right and wrong are simply deep in the complexity of the scene and more difficult to distinguish. Our ethics provide us with the vision to help see truth, differentiate between right and wrong and make the right choices.

We simply can’t separate our business ethics and our personal character. They are in fact two sides of the same coin. The way that we conduct ourselves in the business environment will spill over into our personal lives, and our personal values will help mold our approach to our loss prevention career and the way that we manage every aspect of our professional calling. In the loss prevention industry, that image is everything. The ethical impression that you create not only speaks volumes about your character, but also helps set the tone for the way your entire department and your company as a whole is perceived. Bad decisions that lead to poor perceptions will tarnish reputations and destroy credibility. It doesn’t necessarily matter what the truth is as much as it matters what others perceive the truth to be. And once the damage is done, it’s very difficult to get it back.

- Digital Partner -

Ethical Dilemmas

Ethical dilemmas can be a problem for anyone and everyone, not just those with misguided intensions. Just because you’re an honest person doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t fall victim to an ethical dilemma. We all make mistakes, and can fall prey to bad judgment. We can all find ourselves in situations where we are not sure how to react or respond, regardless of our position or our responsibilities. We are also in a position that commands the spotlight, a position where simply by the nature of our role within the company we must hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Understanding our vulnerabilities and remaining cognitive of both our behaviors and our perceived character judgments can help us protect and maintain our integrity, but there’s still no substitute for doing the right thing. You want to be defined on the basis of your good character, which means that you should take the time and careful consideration to keep your ethical position sound from every angle:

  • Honesty: When it comes to ethics, there is a simple ideal that cannot be disputed: unless we are willing to provide honest service to those that we deal with—whoever it may be, we have no right to even hope for anything better from others, let alone expect it. Honesty is still the best policy. We should practice it ourselves and promote it among others in the work environment.
  • Integrity: There should be no real distinction between doing what is right in business and doing what is right in other aspects of our lives. Hiding behind phrases such as “That’s just good business” is not a license to compromise our ethics. Demonstrating integrity shows the maturity and stability of your character. The depth of our ethical commitment and adherence to our values and principles should stand firm.
  • Trust: In order to be considered trustworthy we must instill faith, confidence and reliability. Trust can be hard to earn, and even more difficult to win back once it is lost. In order to be effective in the Loss Prevention industry, you must instill trust in those that you work with and confidence in the way that you perform your duties.
  • Responsibility: Ethical people take responsibility for their words, actions and behaviors. We have an obligation to perform and serve. We are accountable, not only to our stores, our team and our customers, but to everyone who we come in contact with. We have a responsibility to be fair and just in everything that we do.
  • Respect: Respect for a position may be an expectation, but respect for the individual still must be earned. Respect is an expression of honor, value, consideration and esteem. It is something that we earn through honesty, integrity, responsibility and trust. It is something that we must demonstrate if we hope to receive it. Respecting the rights of others is fundamental to strong ethics.
  • Quality: We should strive for excellence in every aspect of our performance. Those that recognize the importance of quality and strive for it on a day-to-day basis will carry a profound sense of self-respect, pride in accomplishment, and attentiveness that will affect everything that they touch. Making every effort to deliver performance that is accurate, complete, relevant, timely and understandable will emulate quality and professionalism.
  • Dependability: Ethical people can be relied upon. They make themselves available. They are steady, solid and sound in their approach to people, ideas and situations. They are capable of solving problems, answering questions and providing support when entrusted with that responsibility.
  • Sincerity: Ethical values and behaviors are only respected when they are real. The genuineness of our intentions will be reflected through our words, actions and behaviors.
  • Humility: This aspect of our ethical character (or lack thereof) is one that often stands in our way. Overblown egos, passing judgment, a general lack of flexibility and other self-inflating behaviors are at the heart of many ethical dilemmas.
  • Commitment: Being bound emotionally, intellectually and professionally to an ethical course of action defines who we are as a Loss Prevention executive. That dedication not only guides our behavior, it guides our careers and gives us an identity.

None of these traits should serve as a revelation to anyone. They are all characteristics that have been discussed with us throughout our lives and at every level of our personal growth. Ethics is about how we live in the present to prepare for the future, and that applies to every aspect of who we are, whether it is in our personal or professional lives. It is about values, ideas and aspirations. It is about the quality of our lives and how we approach everything that we do.

In our professional lives our ability to treat supervisors, subordinates, other employees, customers, vendors and others in an ethical, fair and open way is not only the right thing—it’s the only way to survive. Strong moral fiber is what holds us together. Some may believe otherwise. They think that they can bend rules, “spin” ideals and creatively apply the rules that we should all live by. But it catches up with all of us eventually. At the end of the day when we’re faced with nothing but ourselves, it will make a difference. When reflecting on ourselves and what matters most, what do we see? What do we have left?

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