Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ethics and Morals

This semester, I'm taking a course in Human Resources Management.  It's a class I was pretty dang stoked to take, because it fits in really nicely with payroll, and other Accounting functions.  Additionally, any office job or job working with the public seems to require a given level of mastery of the skills taught in a human resources class.  Unfortunately it seems for me, the very second chapter of the semester deals in Corporate Ethics.  Womp, womp.

For the record, I believe that it is important to work for an agency or organization that adheres to a strong set of ethics.  However, I really, really, REALLY hate the manner in which this subject is addressed academically and in corporate training environments.  My text starts off by explaining the sources where people find their moral and ethical compass, religious texts as the primary example.  Duh.  However, in the very same chapter, they are talking about how we must respect the ethics policies of different cultures.  Ummmmmmm... why do we have to constantly have to contradict ourselves?  Why do we wholly admit that it is not okay to base a corporate ethics policy on religious tenants, but not okay to admit to these ideals, a-la Chick-Fil-A?  And more importantly, why do ethics trainers talk about ethics as a philosophical debate and concept, but then go on to insist that there is a "clear" answer???


The point of philosophy, as I understand it, is that there is no "clear" answer, only a decision that is justified by a well-thought out and reasoned argument based on the ethics of an individual or a larger organization of people.  Making the assumption that all people see issues in the exact same way is so short-sighted.

And then the text went on to talk about Corporate Social Responsibility, and how it's not only a crucial aspect of HR, it's vital to a business' Employer branding.  2 pages later, CSR is deemed to be largely not viable on the global scale at this time, as changing regulations, foreign policy, and cost-saving measures often stand between doing the right thing and your bottom line.  So the take-away there is that you should practice Social Responsibility, but only in your own backyard.  Keep hiring the 6 year olds in China, though, while you're donating to the Ronald McDonald House in the town your business is headquartered in.  Holy Mackerel, does that ever reek of hypocrisy.

Google said it best:  "Don't be evil".  I don't understand why we have to make it more than that.  Be a good person, and do the best that you can.  Work for a company whose values align with your own.  Support businesses that do things you like, and don't spend your money at places that do evil things.  Let Capitalism ring, people!!!  **Steps off soap box**

I really hope this chapter is not setting the tone for this entire textbook.  Since I have the honor of taking most of my classes online, I tend to develop strong feelings about textbooks and their authors.  If this is any indication, it could be an awfully long semester...


  1. I like the way you think. This is what drives me crazy about so many classes I've taken. I wonder of they even bother to think about the garbage they teach us and how conflicting most information is.

  2. Well the real question is when did business schools stop being part of the business community as apprenticeships and the like and thrust in to universities as part of academia, so much so that now they have to bring in business people from the outside. This really makes no sense. Not everything requires a 4 year degree; business is one of those things. I think Bob Lutz gives some good talks on this, and how tragic it's been for American business. At this point you are probably thinking perhaps this person is right, and not an idiot, let me fix that for you.

    As for let capitalism ring, that's what gave us our current economic problems, exported child labor, exported lack of environmental policies etc; unchecked capitalism is an issue, especially with a poorly educated populace, as we have. As we gut education especially for the poor, and most Americans aren't rich, only about 1% are, well they make uneducated decisions. If people only worked for companies that shared their ideals most of the country would be out of a job, and if people only bought from companies that shared their values, everyone would be naked, hungry, and very bored. Companies don't share my values, they only care about making more money, that's what they are designed to do, make money, nothing more, the the question is, what is money? Why is money important? As for Google and do no evil, these are the people giving the (redacted) information on your fellow citizens.

  3. "Don't be evil."

    what would the world be like if we all just lived by that?

  4. It's so hard to fully know how one spends a dollar though - there are some apps that track the product from development though to sale for good behaviour, but there aren't that many and even I (a person who feels pretty strongly about this type of thing) don't use one.

    There are some companies that show that you can be successful AND have good corporate practices. I think Patagonia is one of them, but we have to be willing to pay for those ethics.

    You're right it's full of hypocrisy, not just from businesses though, but from all of us.


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