The notion of an “ethical business” isn’t an oxymoron. Two automotive companies make me wonder:

  • GM was just fined $900 million for the car ignition problem that killed over 100 people. People inside GM knew the truth and looked the other way. Right now, the Justice Department has no plans to issue criminal indictments. I heard someone on the news say, “The law really doesn’t address this issue.” It would seem product liability laws have kicked in but what about concealing the truth from management and customers? What about customers dying and not one word was uttered by GM until it was forced to face the music?
  • VW has been caught providing invalid documentation of diesel engine emissions on its automobiles. The software settings that confirmed the vehicles met emission requirements were changed for production vehicles meaning the vehicles did not meet emission requirements. VW is facing fines of up to $18 billion for this violation.

I was taught we should “do the right thing.” Both GM and VW have failed to “do the right thing.” In the case of GM, people have died. In the case of VW, our environment has been compromised.

Ethical choices in business depend on a proper moral compass. Leadership must set the compass and monitor compliance.

Thought for the week:

“If you see distraction externally, you end up creating an internally distracted state.” – Tim Ferriss
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What do you think? I welcome your comments!
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Dave Gardner

Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker, author, and blogger based in Silicon Valley. He's been in the front row for the birth and evolution of Silicon Valley, the innovation capital of the world. Since 1992, Dave Gardner focuses on making the complex simple around people, process and technology. Dave is the author of Mass Customization: An Enterprise-Wide Business Strategy - How Build to Order, Assemble to Order, Configure to Order, Make to Order, and Engineer to Order Manufacturers Increase Profits and Better Satisfy Customers.

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