Newsletter Richard Ratliff

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, September 2019, Professional Standards of Performance

Professional Standards of Performance: Application #19

By Richard L. Ratliff 

Today’s Issue: A Worthy Foundation (III)

Two previous articles on the foundational principles undergirding the butling profession addressed (1) the butler as master of relationships and (2) what constitutes high quality of life. This third installment addresses the profession’s moral imperative—how to recognize a moral issue, what is moral or not, and why it is important.

Several conditions must be present for an issue to be one of morality:

  • Moral issues have to do with behavior, things that people do or don’t do.
  • Someone is affected by the behavior;
  • A deliberate choice of behavior exists based upon moral preference;
  • There is an implied or explicit responsibility to make a morally superior choice;
  • There is a moral standard by which alternative choices may be decided.

Absent any of these conditions, no moral question exists. The problem, however, seldom is whether a moral issue exists, but rather, what is the moral thing to do?

The basic idea is simple. Moral behavior improves quality of life and the welfare of others. It is helpful and kind. Immoral behavior deliberately harms or diminishes quality of life and the welfare of others, either directly or indirectly. It is hurtful and unkind. The governing principle is to care enough about the quality of life and welfare of others to do something about it.

A butler’s immediate professional moral imperative is to support, protect, and enhance the quality of life and welfare of his employer, members of the household, and guests. On a higher order, a butler’s professional moral imperative is to support and improve the welfare of society in general and the profession. And in the case of a moral dilemma, where there is moral conflict between choices, the welfare of society and the profession generally sway the choice. A moral breakdown threatens everyone concerned, near and far. The aim is the greater good and less harm.

The Butler’s Professional Code of Ethics state: “Abide by the highest ethical, moral, and legal standards….”

The Rotary Club has a “Four-Way Test” for anything we may say or do which may prove useful:

  • Is it true?
  • Is it fair to all concerned?
  • Does it build goodwill and better friendships?
  • Is it beneficial to all concerned?

Next month’s installment will address the foundational principle of excellence.

A complimentary booklet on the standards of service, upon which this column is based, and also written by Professor Ratliff, is available for download in electronic format.

Professor Ratliff is a retired butler who co-authored Volume 1 of Serving the Wealthy and has published three other books and over thirty articles. He can be reached via the Institute.

The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.