Business ethics have waxed and waned over the centuries, but recently we have observed a severe lack of ethical conduct on a large-scale in recent years. The most recent world-wide economic crisis was triggered by years of unethical business practices that nearly put the United States in its first depression in almost a century. In hindsight the questionable business practices were often created by a subtle system of pressuring employees to take actions that were demanded by executives and managers in order to improve earnings for stockholders. This type of ethical dilemma often leaves no one person to blame, and even those involved sometimes do not realize that they are participating in inappropriate and/or unethical acts.
I have been caught in ethical dilemmas that created a moral challenge for me and in one situation I lost a stream of revenue in a seemingly no win scenario.
For a time I assisted a seminar speaker who was considered to be an expert in his field. He hired me to participate in group activities during his seminars. Occasionally, he would ask me to update or write scenarios for his seminars. In one case I based the scenario on someone I knew, but I added the possibility of suicide. The scenario was also combined with a possibility of doing harm to someone else. We used the scenario in one of his seminars and it went very well.
A few weeks later we used the same scenario, with minor revisions, with another client. Interestingly enough, the night before the seminar, the speaker told me that someone else had just written the scenario. However, when I read it I realized that it was the same one I had written for him a few weeks earlier. When I mentioned to him that I was familiar with this scenario and tactfully reminded him that I had been the original author he quickly acknowledged it and moved on.
The next day exercise went well and afterward the participants were given the opportunity to discuss the activity. Participants began asking him about what happened in real life to this person. Instead of explaining that this was a fictional scenario based on a combination of multiple real situations, the speaker began explaining that in the real life situation that the person did indeed kill himself. He continued to answer more questions that were also fabrications, but passed off as his ‘research’. Afterwards I did not mention anything to him about his handling of the post-activity questions. He was hiring me to assist him, not criticize him and so I did not pursue it with him.
He had already hired me to work with two more clients in the next few weeks and at both he insisted that I stay out of the room, except during the group activity. He stressed that it was not good for his clients to ‘get to know me’ too well. He also did not schedule me for any more work with his clients.
Later I tried to understand what I might have done to cause an abrupt end to our relationship. He and his clients raved about my work. I then realized that the sudden changes occurred after I witnessed his unethical handling of questions in the previous seminar. Apparently it had a significant impact on him that I observed his breach of trust with his client and that earned me a permanent seat on the bench.
Perhaps I should have confronted him, but I think that would have just made him mad, with the same result. It was a good lesson: A lack of ethics by one person…sucks.
Business: Public Relations, Management, and Social Media Related
- HR/Security Hot Topic: Should you watch your employee’s personal Internet activities? (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.)
- Relationship Typing: 3 factors that affect the quality and depth of friendship (Part I)
- Starbucks Re-Imagines the business … again
- Your Privacy Rights on the Internet: Read before you write
- Social Media 3Q Update: Who uses Facebook, Twitter,LinkedIn, and MySpace?
- Richmond Embassy Suites: The best at true Hospitality
- Dear Business Person: It’s 2010, please update your brain.
- Selling watered-down beer: The best spin campaign in advertising
- Communication: Repetition of message does not increase awareness
- Is it time to fire yourself?
- Millennium Hotel: Go away, spend your money elsewhere
- Rogue Flight Attendant shows his arrogance, Airlines dislike for the customer
- 2Q 2010 Social Media Tools: Facebook/Twitter sail on, LinkedIn/MySpace don’t
- War Declared on Social Media: Desperate Acts of Traditional Media
- Pay It Middle: The Balance between Too Much and Too Little Compensation
- Mega Executive Pay Leads to Poor Performance
- Relationships and Thin-Slicing: Why the other person knows what you’re really thinking
- Browser Wars: Internet Explorer losing, Google Chrome gaining ground
- WiFi on Southwest Airlines: Is it ‘Shovel Ready’?
- Starbucks makes a smart move: Free WiFi
- Foul Play: FIFA shows what less regulation offers to business
- The Shock of the McChrystal Story: The story is over before the article is published
- Tony Hayward: The very model of a modern Major General
- Epic Fail: PR ‘Experts’ don’t get Twitter
- King of Anything: Social Media vs Traditional Media
- Twitter is the Thunderstorm of World Thought
- Signs of the Times
- How Social Interactive Media Could Transform Higher Education
- How to Become a Zen Master of Social Media
- Death of All Salesmen!
- Aristotle’s General Rules on Social Media
- Social Media: What is it and Why Should You Care?
- Social Media 2020: Keep it Personal
- Social Media 2020: Who Shouldn’t Be Teaching Social Media
- Social Media 2020: Public Relations 2001 vs Social Media Relations 2010
- Social Media 2020: Who Moved My Public Relations?
- Publishing Industry to End 2012
- Who uses Facebook, Twitter, MySpace & LinkedIn?
- Fear of Public Relations
- Dissatisfiers: Why John Quit
- Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…Oh My!
- Does Anybody Really Understand PR?
- Rotary@105: 7 Relationship types that affect membership retention (Part II)
- What most non-Rotarians don’t know about Rotary
- Rotary@105: Making Rotary Sexy
- Rotary@105: Grieving change
- How Rotary can..must..will plug into Social Media
- Rotary PR: Disrespecting the Club President is a PR/Membership issue
- Rotary Membership/Public Image Challenge
- Rotary New Year: Retread or Renaissance?
- Rotary@105: A young professionals networking club?
- One Rotary Center: A home for 1.2 million members
- Rotary@105: What BP Could Learn from the 1914 Rotary Code of Ethics
- Rotary Magazine Dilemma Reveals the Impact of Social Media
- Rotary@105: April 24th – Donald M. Carter Day
- Rotary@105: What kind of animal is Rotary International?
- Rotary: The Man in the Yellow Hat as the Ideal Club President?
- Rotary@105: Our 1st Rotary Club Dropout
- Rotary Public Relations and Membership: Eight Steps to a Team Win
- Rotary: All Public Relations is Local
- Best Practices: Become a Target!
Personal Experience Related
- Knowing when it’s over or beyond over
- Dear Teresa Laraba, SVP of Southwest Airlines Customer Service
- Things I didn’t know about being a Father to a four-year-old boy
- Riding Reno: The Ladies of Reno
- Up in the air down in Texas
- I mow my lawn because…
- Nevada I-580: An Interstate by any other name
- Nevada’s oldest brewery opens a Reno location
- Two Barbecues and a Wedding
- Car Dealership Re-Imagines Customer Service
Our Country and History Related