The Importance of Ethics

The Golden Rule has been embedded in our minds since we managed to speak our first words. As we have grown, it has been stored in the back of our minds for occasional reference. I would like to remind everyone of the importance of ethical behavior. And though it may not seem paramount, honorable decisions can place you ahead of the game.

Whether it is through price fixing games, crooked accounting principles, or fraud of any kind, those who try to prosper by cheating only bring long term damage to themselves and often to those around them.

Hopefully by now you have heard about the Enron Scandal and the effects on employees and corporate America. Enron traders collaborated with California’s power plants and caused blackouts over the entire western power grid whenever demand decreased. When everyone was begging for energy, Enron would “come to the rescue” with higher prices. Traders saught out every loophole in order to profit from California’s misery. They had absolutely no interest in providing energy, they just wanted to make an obscene amount of money and needed a cover under which to operate. They were beyond unethical. Kenneth Lay, founder and CEO, died before he received his sentence. And the president, Jeffery Skilling, was sentenced to 24 years and 4 months in prison. He will finish his sentence in 2030.

A more recent ethical issue had presented itself in the automobile industry. I laugh to myself when a Toyota commercial interrupts my favourite show and says something like, “…America’s most trusted car manufacturer”. Right, because I know how much we all love the thrill that comes from suddenly accelerating and have roll-over collisions! This situation reminds me of the Ford Pinto case in the late 1970’s where some rear-end collisions caused explosions which led to thousands of deaths and even more serious injuries. Many times, when a manufacturing issue arises, it is cheaper for the producer to pay for damages as individual cases arise rather than order a massive recall. To many ordinary individuals, the choice between human lives and billions of dollars would be be an easy one.

So why exactly does it pays to be humane? Think of how many people are paying more for coffee that is Fair-Trade Certified. Consumers are regarding, more than ever, the way in which their favorite items are being produced. Buyers are anti-sweatshop, “Made in the USA” supporters. If you make it known that you are giving back to the community or just avoid taking a shortcut at the expense of others, you will gain the positive reputation you desire.

So even if you have never even thought of resorting to crooked schemes to meet demands, please just leave this page with a higher level of appreciation for following the rules. It is a strong entity, whether it be an individual, a sports team, or a large organization, that can succeed with out cheating. Be strong, and be the change you want to see.