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Ethical fading is where people make unethical decisions thinking they're within their ethical framework. They will rationalise why they made their decisions. "I have to put food on the table", "everyone is doing it", "it's the industry standard."
For example, a pharmaceutical company that has a patent on an essential drug keeps on raising the price exponentially to meet financial targets. While it is not illegal, it is unethical. It doesn't feel right.
We use language to distance ourselves from the impact of our decisions. We use and overuse euphemisms such as "companies would never spy on their customers", but we love data mining.
The danger increases with the slippery slope. When somebody use unethical behaviour and gets away with it or even rewarded for it, then does it again and bigger than before. Then other people join in and before you realise, you have full unethical fading.
Poor leadership reward unethical behaviour by creating conditions where people will do these things.
For example, exerting pressure on people, even threatening them that if they miss their numbers they'll lose their job.
Yet, good leadership can reverse ethical fading.
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