While watching Face the Nation one Sunday earlier this year, Bob Schiffer discussed the airline industry, his mother and ethics in business.
Like Bob, I think it is a sad commentary today, that we have to police businesses. Whatever happened to going into business to provide a needed service, being loyal to employees, and keeping promises. It seems like no one today is concerned about doing good business or being ethical in the process. Our forefathers would be ashamed at what this society has come to. I know I am.
Chuck and I teach our students how to run a good business, by being ethical, and making sure that everyone is happy. We run our business using the adage, “The customer is always right”. We know, however, from looking at others in business both on and offline, that we are in the minority. For most it is all about making money. They don’t care who they have to step on, how many lies they tell, just “show them the money”. As I pointed out in my article regarding “The Almighty Buck”, this should not be your only incentive for going into business, and if it is, you won’t be in business long.
We see sites every day that you can’t find a telephone number on, an address for, they just want you to take it on faith that they are on the up and up. Years ago, a business would never even think of operating this way. Their name, address, phone number, slogan etc. was very prominent on everything they did. Unfortunately today, you can’t take people on faith anymore. It’s very sad, but it seems if you do so, most of the time, you will get burned.
Years ago, companies were known for their honesty, their integrity, and their good products. They had to be to stay in business and keep the good image they wanted to project. This gave their company a good name.
As many of you know, we come from New York. Kodak, Grumman, and IBM were major companies in down and upstate NY. If you got a job with them you had a job for life, and once you retired you didn’t have to worry. Today, people are losing their medical benefits, their pensions, their life savings; due to businesses thinking of only the bottom line.
Every time you open a newspaper or watch the news today you hear about another business’ unethical business practices. They cook the books, take bonuses they don’t disclose, while they expect employees to work for less. There is something very wrong with this picture. It also says to our future entrepreneurs, that this behavior is alright, just don’t get caught.
Like Bob Schiffer, I’d much rather go back to the time when businesses dealt with us in an ethical manner and didn’t only concentrate on lining their pockets, like today. Also, like Bob, I think what we need are different teachings in our business schools. The philosophy of today’s teachers, needs to re-vamped to reflect the philosophies of old. What we need is to “throw out the new, and bring back the old”. As Bob said, if his mom was teaching today, students would get a completely different view…an old fashioned one. Kudos to Bob’s mom!