Ethics – in today’s disjointed, disconnected world, they are still important. The lines between right and wrong have never been black and white, yet they have never been as clouded as they are today. Politics in Washington is polarizing the country. Facebook, Twitter and other social media are turning both controversial statements as well as unintended gaffes into viral sensationalism. Yet, social media in particular broadens everyone’s audience by giving you a stronger voice to reflect and project your opinions into the cloud. Is that a bad thing?
It is not my role to cast judgment, but as a parent I am clear about what I present to my kids in terms of right and wrong. I think my employer has an equal right to expect alignment with their definition of right and wrong. Fortunately for me, the MIPRO corporate culture of “do the right thing” mirrors closely to my personal expectations of myself and my family. It is refreshing to know that my company’s guiding principle for any situation, especially the hard situations, is to do what is right without hesitation. When that happens, the rest tends to take care of itself.
Here is a quick compilation of some articles that seem to challenge the notion of “do the right thing”. You may or may not agree with the outcomes (which I had nothing to do with), but you can judge for yourself the ultimate impact to the employees, the customers, and everyone affected by one of these stories.
An article Inside Higher Education caught my eye because I too pay college bills. Fortunately I don’t have to pay this one: here’s a $180 customized art textbook — without any art. No matter what rationale you throw at it, there’s no denying this is shady marketing. Clear-cut, right and wrong, as I see it.
Or here’s an article about a consulting firm that caught my eye and really got me thinking. I am not in a position to judge who did what and when, but I know my company is very protective of our partnerships and we work hard to operate in a way that supports both our partner and our customer. Is this a gray area, some cloudy water? I don’t think so.
Or how about this: here’s an interesting piece about a couple on a gameshow. I’m really challenged here because this one has several twists, and the scene is certainly more complex. However, the difference the winning (losing?) couple makes is valid: ‘password’ is indeed the most popular password when studied across the web writ large. When the focus is sequestered to only one website? Certainly changes the game, but doubly so when the narrowed focus isn’t mentioned in the gameshow’s question.
Maybe a more prominent example is the recent court case between Apple and Samsung. Mashable Tech has posted a great graphic titled Apple vs. Samsung: The Patent Wars that attempts to depict exactly what they are arguing over. It’s a fine line. Personally, I don’t think Apple has cornered the market on a rectangular phone with rounded corners, but I believe that is part of their claim. At the same time, I am not sure Samsung can claim that all of their designs were based on creativity and “original” thought. I guess “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” is great right up to the point where it limits sales or confuses prospective customers. (In the name of full disclosure, I own a Samsung Galaxy III and love it.)
Last example: here’s another article from Inside Higher Education that provides a startling view of Juvenile Records and Admissions. When you read this, consider how it impacts your child and their school selection. Is this one cloudy to you?
In the end, you can make your own judgment about any issue, and you can self-assess how you and your company might react put into a similar situation. To me, not everything is up for interpretation. In many cases, there is a clear and present right and wrong. I am quite comfortable and downright thankful that I know how MIPRO would react in situations where there’s a true value judgment to be made, and I’m equally comfortable with how they expect me to act.
What about you? Have you seen right and wrong get muddied to the point of indecision or making the wrong decision? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. This stuff fascinates me to no end.