Can Business Managers be Moral?

Most businesses today know that they not only have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders but they also have responsibilities to their customers and employees. Most businesses today realize that their responsibilities to their customers’ affects revenue but their responsibility to their employees affects their ability to service those same customers. Most companies today realize that their employees are their number one resource.

So why is it that, time and time again, we hear of unacceptable behavior from company executives when it comes to the treatment of their number one resource?

The dictionary defines “ethics” as; “a system of moral principles” it defines “moral as; “of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong”.

Over the past few months and as recently as last week I have witnessed company executives act in their own self interest with no regards to ethics or morals. Actions that have no purpose or reason other than to shift blame for their own failings and incompetencies. I started thinking “Is this where our corporate society is heading?” Where are our moral corporate leaders? Where are the good guys that care about their fellow humans? I am saddened to say that I have lost some of my faith in Humanity if we allow these actions to continue unchallenged.

Employees and Customers, globally, should insist on ethical behavior from corporate executives when it comes to the treatment of company employees. Now don’t get me wrong, I fully support the right of any organization to terminate a disruptive, dishonest or unproductive employee. What I object to is when employees are used as scapegoats for political game play or to shift blame for the self preservation of the executive. If an executive wishes to play political games to further their career then they should live or die, alone, by their actions. If a bad decision was made or a situation will occur as a direct cause of a bad decision then be professional enough to wear the blame rather than point fingers.

Typical employees that have been in these situations usually have no options but to live with these decisions. Typically they have no resources to fight “big business”. It’s time for the ordinary people to demand that big business become ethical. As an investor I will pay close attention to my portfolio and only trade in companies that have a code of ethics in their charter that they adhere to. I will stand up in shareholders meetings and demand explanations or voice disapproval to injustices carried out on employees of the company. To do less would be to endorse the behavior that may ultimately reduce the profitability of the company that I am investing in.

Human Resources are, when all is said and done, “HUMAN”. When will executives realize that they are no different to any of their colleagues or staff? The only difference is that they are paid to do a different job or make bigger decisions. When the end of day clock is punched we are all on the same level. No one is better. One may say that I am naive to believe this. I reply in the words of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote “I prefer to see life as it ought to be”

 

What Price the Future?

Ted.com is a wonderful site with wonderful new ideas. One of the best ideas I have seen in a long while is MIT’s sixth sense concept. According to one of the creators, Pranav Mistry’s website  “‘SixthSense’ is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information.” 

Making life easier with technology has been around since the industrial revolution. The question I have is, how far will humanity let technology control our decisions and choices? Advancements like the sixth sense are amazing and we could spend hours discussing the technological features of this concept. In fact, there are many websites that have done just that. If you want to see more features beyond TED’s and Pranav’s websites, just Google “MIT sixth sense”.  

I’d like to focus on the psychological aspect of technologies like this.

Having access to all the information in the world at your fingertips is very seductive, but how will this affect society? Will it make us more informed or less capable of making decisions in our lives? One could argue that tools like this will enhance society and enable us to enjoy more leisure time. True, but at what cost? Does anyone really think that such technology won’t be used by corporations to spread their advertising messages? How else will we afford it?

Maslows Heirarchy of needs  states that security of needs, or safety, is second only to physical needs. One can argue that being homogeneous with society gives people that security. Belonging to a group or community of similar minded individuals, will achieve that security of need.  Community leaders or “experts” have sway over people who have not achieved self actualization.

Advertisers have been approaching the market like this for years. “Meet Phil, he is a dentist, we can’t show you his face but he recommends…..” So if we have all this information at our fingertips then the advertisers have access to us every moment of every day.

People, in general, will not make a decision if they don’t have to. The thought of what book to read or what TV  to buy are not life changing decisions. So why waste time doing the research yourself? Let’s check out what the websites say. How far a leap is it from what book do I read to what do I eat? Where do I go for entertainment? Where do I send my child to be educated? Who should I vote for?

People may think that they are masters of their own decisions but are they? How many people will accept reviews and critiques about books, restaurants, theater and films  rather than researching and deciding for themselves? Society has become reliant of the voice of “experts” on subjective maters of taste.  When you purchase that next TV or Laptop can you be sure that the “reviews” are unbiased or are the reviews just paid advertisements in disguise?

This may sound paranoid but the point here is that we should exercise our own judgements and decisions and use the technological tools being created as just that…….tools. Let the “experts” guide us, not decide for us. Remember that great scene in Monty Pythons “Life of Brian” where Brian says to an enormous crowd “You’re all individuals” and one lone voice rings out “I’m not”.