by Ken Vincent, Featured Contributor
MUCH HAS BEEN WRITTEN, is being written, and will be written about ethics. The need for them, how they define a company, and what they consist of. Words like honesty, truth, empathy, and many others are used to define ethics and parts thereof.
Ethics are personal. There is no universal standard. Each person has to draw his/her own line in the sand. Okay, that is fine, but in living with the struggles of every day those lines get wavy. Sometimes they get erased or moved. Sometimes they are just flat get ignored because it is expedient to do so.
Nothing new in that of course. It has been going on for thousands of years. Landlords evicted starving serfs from their hovels when they couldn’t pay the rent and then went to church the next day. Preachers and pastors uphold the teachings of their church when in the pulpit, and then do otherwise. The list could be endless in all venues, but lets bring the issue closer to home.
What about when your company replaces the metal cog in the widget you manufacture with plastic. No change in price, no notice to the buyers. Do you object knowing the new product is inferior? What about when your cereal company puts 8 ounces of cereal in the same size box at the same price instead of 10 ounces. Do you quit? We justify those things by saying, “Its just business”. Many of the seamen and even captains plying the slave trade didn’t like it, or believe that it was right, but it was “just business”. What about the new entrepreneur having trouble attracting investors and he begins to massage his projections and operating numbers? It is just business.
The bottom line is that ethics have always been and still are malleable. They are like that wad of play doe your child is molding to fit his desire. We all decry those that we say have no ethics as we hold ours up as examples to emulate.
But how rigid are your ethics and mine. Are they modifiable to fit the necessities of the day? Are we sometimes that biblical figure casting the first stone? Where is that “won’t cross line” in your ethics? Have you ever been pressured by circumstance or employers to make them a bit more “spongy”?