I have often made the observation that in American society, time after time, competence trumps integrity. We value people who have certain abilities or who entertain us in certain ways, and what they do to make us money or make us happy is much more important to us than who they are, or who they hurt in the process. I see it as a fundamental weakness in the moral character of American society, one that provides a ceiling on how far we can really progress ethically.
I see the examples in business again and again. The latest example is Mark Hurd, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and currently the new co-president of Oracle. I would say that the things that he did to get fired at HP were relatively small compared to the accusations against many in positions of power in business. Usually, a single relationship that leads to an accusation of sexual harassment, especially when there is no favoritism shown in areas like promotion and raises, is not enough to get a successful CEO fired. If the reports in The Wall Street Journal are accurate, Hurd’s alleged misrepresentations on travel reimbursements were the cause of the board’s breakdown in trust with their CEO. If this is true, it is to their credit that they took the issue seriously. But many in the business community think that they were fools to fire him.
And, in that light, there is probably no one more likely than Oracle’s Larry Ellison to be a buyer in the market for someone of Mark Hurd’s skills. Ellison has a reputation for taking no prisoners, and he manifested that arched back mentality when HP pushed back at the hiring because of a non-compete clause in Hurd’s contract. Ellison openly threatened breaking off the long-term relationship between Oracle and HP, relatively typical bluster for him. It was all settled by Hurd giving back some of his stock awards, which, of course, does nothing to address the fact that Hurd has extensive inside information about HP.
As much as I care about business ethics, it is hard for me not to see Ellison as the clear winner in the negotiation. In some sense, competent people being employable despite their flaws may simply be the price of the free enterprise system. If the moral disconnect is not so outrageous as to make people angry, and you are really good at what you do, you are probably going to get away with it. If you are punished, it will probably only be in the short-term, and you will quickly have other, even superior, opportunities.
It is no different in the NFL. New York Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards’s alleged drunk driving event this week was met with a tepid response from his team’s organization, from the coach to the general manager to the owner. Coach Rex Ryan indicated that he was tired of these types of events and owner Woody Johnson intoned that Edwards had let himself and the team down. Oh, by the way, he will be playing against Miami Sunday, because the Jets have a better chance of winning if he does. (As an aside, it’s unclear to me as a football fan, based on his performance on the field, why they think that.)
And Edwards is a second chancer also. Cleveland traded him to the Jets not only because he had a tendency to drop passes, but because he was a public relations nightmare, including accusations of assault on a 135-pound man. The Jets are clearly a superior opportunity for him, the chance to play with a team with designs on the Super Bowl. Nothing he has done has prevented him from having this chance, and who could blame him for believing that nothing ever will? About the only thing you can do that will push you off the cliff is lie about what you did—ask Roger Clemens and Martha Stewart. And Mark Hurd is, allegedly, living proof that not even that will always do it.
I can feign moral outrage if you like. But, the truth is, Americans generally like winning more than they like doing the right thing. They like making money more than they like doing the right thing. That’s why I tell the young auditors I train the truth. It’s the world you are operating in, and you had better be prepared for it.
It is also the truth that the fall comes for many, for Enron’s Jeff Skilling and Andy Fastow, for WorldCom’s Bernie Ebbers and Scott Sullivan. And I am glad that I live in a country that gives second chances. But sometimes, in my heart of hearts, I wish I could pick who got them.
I was working at Worldcom when the company unraveled. Sometimes presumed competence obscures integrity. One of Bernie Ebbers’ problems is that when he boasted that he didn’t understand technical details, nobody believed him. Wall Street helped to persuade him that, by definition, any company with stock prices that shot up like Worldcom’s must be doing it right. Bernie wasn’t the only one. When Scott Sullivan was given the opportunity by the board to disavow his innovative accounting theories, he stuck by them. Later, their competitors complained that their earnings statements could have looked just as good if they had followed the same theories.
Michael, your point is very well taken. My personal take on Braylon Edwards is the same–this guy is not that good. Sometimes it is perceived or presumed competence that people embrace. Part of the problem at WorldCom is that the people who should have been pushing back at Scott Sullivan’s approaches didn’t do it, primarily Andersen folks. And the people who did push back, like internal auditors Cynthia Cooper, Gene Morse, and Glyn Smith, did so realizing it could cost them their jobs. That’s why, when my daughter met Cynthia Cooper and heard her story, she said to her, “I want to be just like you.”
Dr. Shaub, I can’t wait until your next posting. I always enjoy reading these, but know the fall is a busy semester.
I always want to respond, and even type things in this little white box, but then sit and stare at them, analyze, and realize I have nothing intelligent to bring to the table. This time is no different, but I’ll just feign competence, since according to your article that seems to work (most of the time) 🙂
It seems to me the divide between the desires for competence and for integrity may be closing, at least in the area of college admissions. Example: right now there is a student at a university (not Harvard), that is at that university (not Harvard) because another university (Harvard) pulled his admission ticket last April because of an off-colored facebook post. The glossy essays and glowing recommendations were enough to get him in, but were ultimately betrayed by a snapshot of reality. So there is one Hurd filtered. It used to be that some men’s sins followed behind them. Now they pretty much all go before him, having been uploaded in full color while they were still in progress. Maybe universities see the perils of integrity-less alumni to their namesakes and wish to be proactive. Or they don’t like being dissed on Facebook by punk high schoolers. I guess the motivation is the same either way.
[insert example from sports here (probably something about Brett Favre)]
I hope for a day when competence and integrity are not two columns to choose from, but rather the latter would be necessary for the former to exist. I think the incorporation of integrity into our definition of competence is crucial in our day, and ultimately beneficial in the days to come. I am encouraged when I see the two married… or at least dating (I’m pretty sure integrity would pay for dinner, if competence would just give him a chance).
Thanks for blogging Dr. Shaub. I appreciate your insight as well as your personal vulnerability in these.
Feel free to trim whatever, or to not post at all.
Enduring until your next post,
I like your point, but I can understand why Larry Ellison did what he did. You can always hope for someone to change his behavior. Confucius says life is a long process of learning. Bad guys can become good, and it happens quite often. Competency is harder to develop, it comes with extensive training and industry-specific experiences to be a CEO for companies like HP. I think Ellison was taking a chance on him. Same with NFL, you can’t un-train a good player to be a bad player, but you can always teach a bad person to be a good person again. I don’t know if that makes sense.
“It takes a smart man to conceal from others what he don’t know”- Josh Billings.
I completely agree. Some people appear smarter than they really are. But if you don’t try to appear better than you are, you won’t get any where. That is the problem with most industries, sports, and even college recruiting. Interview experts tell us to focus on what makes us look good and skip over what is bad. Does this mean that everyone who puffs their chest out when they are under the microscope lacks integrity? I don’t think so, I think that with most ethics topics, there are general guidelines. Everybody wants to come across as competent, even if they aren’t. Yes, the smart man can conceal that he is incompetent, but in my opinion, the integral man will seek to become competent so that the facade becomes truth.
“If the moral disconnect is not so outrageous as to make people angry, and you are really good at what you do, you are probably going to get away with it.”
I couldn’t agree more with this point. The situation with Hurd is very comparable to a number of occurrences throughout the sporting world. Without exception on an almost annual basis we hear some story detailing the missteps of a fallen superstar. In most cases, it seems the value these superstars provide on the field is simply too great to punish them for mistakes that incite anything less than public outrage.
The last line of the UGA article is the clincher for me “But if he can play, physically and legally speaking, someone will let him play.”
The guy stole from potential teammates, but when it comes to big time sports it seems there is just too much to gain to waste time considering ethics.
I agree that in competitive arenas, like sports and business, it matters more what someone can bring to the table than who they are as a person. I was a competitve dancer during highschool and was the captain of the dance team my senior year. According to UIL rules, if a dancer or player failed during the six weeks, they were not allowed to perform in any of the football games or competitions that occured in the following six week period. There were many times that I would hear about teachers bumping a student’s grade up to passing so they could play on friday night or perform in the next week’s compeition because, if they didn’t, the team and therefore the school would suffer.
I think we need to take a good look at what message that sends to the kid that rightfully should not be playing. Dr. Shaub said he believes this is a fundamental weakness in the moral character of our society and I agree. I think we start teaching America’s youth this concept from a very early age and it’s a cyclical effect.
Dr. Shaub, I really enjoyed this article.
“But, the truth is, Americans generally like winning more than they like doing the right thing.” I could not agree with this statement more. As someone who grew up living and breathing athletics, I came to the same assumption. In high school, there was a girl who played volleyball with me who was always late to practice, was “hurt” when we had to run that day, and never had a good attitude. However, she was the fastest one on the team, jumped the highest, and could hit a volleyball like you would never believe. During one game, she got mad at our couch and walked off the court during the middle of the game. The officials didn’t even know what to do…
You would think that an action like this would get her kicked off the team. Or, you would at least think that she would have to sit out a couple matches. But no, she was back on the court the very next game.
I remember thinking that our coach was horrible for allowing that. She made it very clear by allowing that behavior though that she was more concerned about winning than doing the right thing.
The second paragraph is supposed to say coach not couch. Oops.
It is unfortunate that this is what the corporate culture has become in the U.S. The fact is, that having integrity does not necessarily mean that you can perform a job effectively. This requires competence. It seems that we are losing sight of the balance that needs to occur between competence and integrity. Developing a corporate culture that embodies both of these characteristics is how you build a company that will last. Having a “do what it takes to win now” mentality will probably lead to success in the short term, but doing things the right way is how you sustain success in business or any other arena.
Unfortunately these situations with Mark Hurd and Braylon Edwards are just more instances when fame and wealth takes precedence over integrity. So many people are willing to sacrifice their ethical judgments in hopes of winning more games or having business advantages, but there are some things that should never be sacrificed for success and that is our integrity and morals. On the other hand, just because you have integrity does not mean you will be successful at any job you try, you must be competent as well. While we should all strive to be competent members of society, we must not risk our values to do so. This is a hard lesson to remember in such a competitive world and I can see how so many people choose to take the easier route towards success.
When winning is equated with being successful, then winning becomes the main focus, regardless of the method(s) used to come in first. Values are pushed aside and the means to the end no longer comply with one’s moral code. Once a person is blinded by an obsession with winning, he/she will do whatever it takes to continue the streak including lying, stealing, and trampling on others without thinking twice. I think the worst thing about people doing this is when after they are caught or finally “lose,” they continue to rationalize their actions as if winning justified the measures taken to get there. No end result or actions should ever lead to a person sacrificing his/her integrity under any circumstances.
That being said, everybody does make mistakes, some worse than others. I believe that in the end, everybody will eventually receive what they put in and justice really will be served. Maybe not always in the courts, but God is the ultimate judge. What if God never gave second chances? If people were not given a chance to redeem themselves, then how would they ever grow or change for the better? In the end, by learning from the mistakes of others that came before us, we can change this trend of unethical behavior currently existing in today’s world.
I think you are exactly right. The business world and the United States in general are much concerned with winning than doing the right thing. The most recent example I can recall is the incident with Ohio State and Jim Tressel. Initially, Tressel appeared courageous and called out his students for improperly selling memorabilia for services. However, it was recently discovered that Tressel knew of the transgressions and attempted to hide them from the NCAA. Analyzing the situation, it appears that Tressel was only concerned with the ultimate goal of winning and was willing to go to great lengths to compromise the integrity of himself, his team, and his university.
This example highlights the pressure that top coaches are under to perform well year in and year out. Despite this pressure, there is no excuse for acting the way that Tressel did. An individual must determine what values he or she deems most important and live by them no matter what the cost.
I think people deserve a second chance. At some magnitude, however, it becomes a little sketchy. Michael Milken, the former junk bond trader, also recieved a second chance when he was let out of jail. He was allegedly paid $50 million for his role in the Time Warner/Turner Broadcasting merger. Was this really a second chance, or just paying back an old friend? I think there is a difference between a second chance, which is given despite what someone has done, and simply ingoring and condoning unethical behavior. In general, I do believe in second chances, as long as they are really a second chance.
First off, loved the article! I too feel that the culture here in the United States (whether it is in the sports environment, business, etc.) is much more results focused (mainly on winning) than principles focused. But to our credit, we are taught from a young age to strive for success and winning, some just take it to the extreme when trying to obtain that. However, I believe you can win and still maintain your integrity. While it may take a few tries to finally get it right, I believe that knowing that you won/succeed for the right reasons and through your own hard work is sooo much more rewarding than winning by cheating or taking short cuts. Finally, I agree with second chances, but I too wish we could pick who got them. It seems that some people are much more deserving than others, while others take that second chance as just another opportunity to try not to get caught. I also think that by disciplining individuals in the public eye we send out a much more meaningful message to everyone, especially younger people still trying to find their way. By seeing their favorite athlete not being able to play in a game shows to them that when they do not play by the rules there will be consequences.
The first person I thought of when I began reading this was Michael Vick. I feel that I could make a strong argument that he has received one of the biggest second chances of my day. So far, he’s been doing great. He’s stayed out of trouble (except for a little birthday celebration incident) and has taken full advantage of his opportunity. I just recently heard that he was a candidate for the cover of the Madden football game. For someone to come from the pen back into the limelight blows my mind. But like you said, Dr. Shaub, America puts winning above most all else. I will openly say that I am rooting for Vick to stay out of any trouble so he can continue to light up a show on the field (and my fantasy football team).
I am a huge proponent for second chances. It’s hard for me to say that not everyone deserves a second chance but in some cases it would be difficult to rationalize giving someone another opportunity. Although, not as extreme as some of the examples we’ve spoken about, I am grateful for the second chances I’ve gotten in my life from the dumb mistakes I’ve made. But I don’t believe the second chance was merely out of sympathy but in the hopes that I would learn and be able to set an example for someone who could be going through a similar predicament. That is the only reason why I would think anyone would deserve another chance.
I agree that people should be able move on from their past and learn from their mistakes but that is the key, learn from it and not continue to make the same mistake over and over again. At some point I do like to think people will realize that they are not proud of their actions and may change their ways but I think this revelation needs an extra push. I think it is the public and regulators’ responsibility to hold people accountable. That being said are we, as the public, willing to do that? Will people really stop watching the NFL to make a point that integrity is lacking? Then you look at people like Mark Hurd who was reprimanded for his actions but was that enough? It seems to me like he would have no reason to think he couldn’t keep going about his business in the same manner he has been.
As mentioned above, it does always seem to come down to winning. In both cases the individuals (Hurd/Edwards), organizations responsible for them (Oracle/Jets), and the stakeholders (shareholders/fans) want to succeed. They all want to be rewarded and seem to be on the right track but what expense is too much. If you allow people to get away with questionable behavior now, where will you draw the line. There will always be an opportunity to rationalize why nothing should be done but I think real value will be added to organizations that choose to stop these incidents before it’s too late.
Lots of interesting points in this blog. The first thing that jumped out at me was when Dr. Shaub wrote: “We value people who have certain abilities or who entertain us in certain ways, and what they do to make us money or make us happy is much more important to us than who they are, or who they hurt in the process.” We see examples of truth of this statement everywhere; on TV shows, in our schools, in sports, in our system of government, and elsewhere. Americans increasingly diminish the value of a person’s character and instead inflate the importance of superficial traits. I’m not a historian, and I can’t testify to what Americans’ attitudes were in previous generations, but I do think I have been around long enough to at least see the curve of the line. I can tell that more and more people cast aside, or even mock the attributes of individuals that have traditionally been considered most essential. In a democratic society, this creates the atmosphere for flawed but competent leaders to thrive.
But not all is lost. We are still offended when a scandal occurs with a congressional leader, still shocked when a pro-athlete makes a racist comment, still outraged at mega-church pastors stealing from their congregations. These people generally don’t retain their reputations after the media is through with them. However, I agree with Dr. Shaub that in general, the majority of Americans like winning more than doing what’s right.
I enjoyed reading this article and found it very applicable to the BYU vs. OSU presentation we heard in class earlier last week. Jim Tressel’s decision to allow the rule-breaking players to play in the Sugarbowl game only further proves your statement that “Americans generally like winning more than they like doing the right thing.” He knew that those players would be crucial for a win against Arkansas and just like your article states, their competance in football trumped their lack of integrity. I believe that the fact that his star quarterback was one of the players found guilty of accepting improper benefits was a major contributor to allowing them to play in the Sugarbowl. Had the five players been five benchwarmers, it might have been a different story. I believe the level of “competence” one offers plays a large role in trumping integrity. Many times, people are willing to hold true to their virtues, but only up to a certain point. This point usually comes when holding on to your integrity is no longer convenient for you. It is important to recognize that moments like this will likely be presented in the working world, and therefore I must enter it knowing that there is no benefit worth the cost of losing my integrity.
Very interesting post. I struggle with this subject. I find myself rooting for athletes on a daily basis that I know have done things I don’t agree with. I’ll start with Tiger Woods. Tiger at one time was absolutely my favorite athlete. He made golf relevant to me, and I don’t know that anyone will ever be more exciting to watch. What he did to his family though is awful, I clearly do not relate to him in any way. However, do I still hope he goes on to break Jack’s record? Absolutely. I hope he shatters it. Is it wrong for me to continue to root for someone who did what he did? I really don’t know.
I guess I’m one of those Americans who puts competence in front of integrity at times. I think this is a very interesting topic though, and it applies to so many situations. You gave us some great examples in business, and I tend to agree that it can really be a problem in business. However, it needs to be taken on a case by case basis. I would hope that I would get another good opportunity, even if I screwed up. Sometimes, second chances can wake people up. Sometimes, it keeps them from waking up. I’m not sure America will ever put integrity in front of competence, and maybe you’re right. Maybe it does provide a ceiling on how far we can progress. I can’t criticize too much though because I know I struggle with the same problem.
This is sad, but true. Our winning mentality unfortunately drives us to forget about our moral virtues sometimes. Today’s business world is extremely over-competitive and many people are willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top or even merely get their foot in the door. As we recently discussed in class, integrity is not only knowing what’s right and wrong but you have to actually choose to do what’s right. I often see this problem in the media with singers and movie stars. They make bad decision after bad decision, yet we still pay them to “entertain” us. I’ve often wondered why we idolize some of the most unethical people out there but I suppose it’s because of their fame and fortune. The sad thing is that most of these celebrities have very unhappy, and unfullfilled lives. Money is something most people desire but I hope that throughout my career I stay level headed and keep my ethical values in check and realize that money will never bring me true happiness.
It would appear that in the free market society we thrive on competition and this can promote actions that are not always deemed ethical. In the Oracle/HP example mentioned you see a very intelligent man engaged in actions that the board felt were not representative of their image at HP, but that seems to be suitable behavior at Oracle. Until we live in a society that aims to better everyones way of life and not just looking for a way to promote ones self I think you must come to expect these types of situations
I think the entertainment industry is another area that pays for bad behavior. There are countless actors and actresses that are in and out of rehab for drug problems and other things, but they are still out the next week partying. They are still invited to be on tv shows and in movies. I think part of the problem is that hollywood sometimes portrays inappropriate behavior as a fun way to live or a funny thing to do. Many comedians make their living on crude humor. These situations portrayed by comedians and in movies are promoting bad behavior, but people continue to pay and watch because it is entertaining. However, it begins to distort reality of what is right and wrong, and it can reward stars for acting inappropriately because it only gives them more attention.
I am in complete agreement with your notion that we as people have glorified high ranking individuals, such as Mark Hurd, despite flaws in their integrity. Had a less influential individual committed a similar act, he or she would not have survived the transgression as unharmed as Hurd. Fortunately for Hurd, and equally unfortunately for ethical progress, business is a cut throat game. Unlike youth soccer leagues, there are no participation trophies being handed out in corporate America. Stockholders want high returns on their investments, customers want higher quality products at more affordable prices, and the government wants job creation. All of these desires are functions of “winning”. Although Hurd’s actions at HP were undoubtedly wrong from an ethical standpoint, they did little to jeopardize the business, and hence, from a business-ethics perspective his actions were conceivable less traumatic. Had he compromised the integrity of HP, the repercussions would have been much more severe, as was the case at Arthur Anderson following the multiple accounting scandals that led to the firms demise.
I feel that this is the society nature to rank competence highest in the business world. A person needs to survivee with food and water in reality, the money can him get those. How to earn money? He or she needs to have enough capabilities, or saying competence to earn money. People will think that to stay in reality is to be competent. No matter for individuals or for companies, making profits and being survival in the world is the primary goal and they need competent talents. Nevertheless, competence has become a main rule and people do not feel wrong by sticking to that.
However, why people easily rank competence higher than integrity? In my opinions, right now, there is a word “pefectionist” to desricbe a person who stick strongly and strictly to his or he original values. A mojority of people think that they are just common, ordianary to live their lives. They do not have to be perfect in every detail and it is ok to be sometimes dishonest or tolerate pressures, as long as they can live. Therefore, most of people who argues that “marverick is staying out of community” do not want to be so perfect to be a marverick alone. There is also a popular proverb saying “No one is perfect in the world.“ Therefore, most of people do not even try to rank integrity highest, but like to try to enhance and show their competence.
I feel that this is the society nature to rank competence highest in the business world. A person needs to survive with food and water in reality, the money can him get those. How to earn money? He or she needs to have enough capabilities, or saying competence to earn money. People will think that to stay in reality is to be competent. No matter for individuals or for companies, making profits and being survival in the world is the primary goal and they need competent talents. Nevertheless, competence has become a main rule and people do not feel wrong by sticking to that.
However, why people easily rank competence higher than integrity? In my opinions, right now, there is a word “perfectionist” to describe a person who sticks strongly and strictly to his or she original values. A majority of people think that they are just common, ordinary to live their lives. They do not have to be perfect in every detail and it is ok to be sometimes dishonest or tolerate pressures, as long as they can live. Therefore, most of people who argue that “maverick is staying out of community” do not want to be so perfect to be a maverick alone. There is also a popular proverb saying “No one is perfect in the world.” Therefore, most of people do not even try to rank integrity highest, but like to try to enhance and show their competence.
The struggle to ascertain the value of competence over integrity is seen in many aspects of life. The entertainment industry especially fails to develop entertainers that exhibit admirable characteristics. As an example, Lindsey Lohan has recently been in the news for being sentenced to community service for violating probation from a DUI charge she received in 2007. How many chances has she gotten already to improve her image and clean up her life? How many more chances will she receive in the future if and when she fails to turn her life around after she serves this sentence?
Countless public figures fail to act with integrity, not to mention follow the law, yet their punishment is often less severe simply becuase of their capability to do their job as an entertainer, athlete, politician or spokesperson. Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? Why are these individuals held to such a high esteem?
It amazes me sometimes how willing people are to sweep past mistakes under the rug, if someone can bring benefit to the organization. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for second chances. But, shouldn’t we give the person some time to think about what they’ve done and see if they have made an actual change before hiring them as CEO of a company or letting them play in next weeks game? I think for so many companies and organizations, these situations are evaluated with a simple cost/benefit approach. If the benefits from having them run the company or play in the game outweigh the minor bad publicity that only a few people will remember after a week (and the risk that something will happen again), then the decision is made. This is what is so wrong with our country. So many of our public figures live with a “win-at-all-costs” approach. If we really want to change this dynamic, we have to stop giving people so many second chances. Otherwise, we are just encouraging younger generations that they can get away with being dishonest.
Despite the examples given in this article, I feel that, as a society, we do value integrity more than most. In the United States bribary and corruption are not as prevalant as in other countries. I value integrity but I am also glad that we live in a soceity capable of forgiveness and giving second chances. I don’t think this should to apply to large, deliberate frauds like those masterminded by Bernie Madoff, Enron, and Worldcom. But if you were to ask me if Mark Hurd deserved another chance after being fired from HP, I would say yes. There is no denying that what he did was wrong, and lying about it was even worse, but I believe that people are able to reform and learn from their mistakes if it is something they want to do.
The question is where to draw the line in the sand. Some indiscretions are too bad to be forgiven as easily, and some lie in a gray area. But as long as the person is deserving of a second chance and that second chance is given for the right reasons, I enjoy living in a society where redemtion is possible.
After reading this blog, I felt frustrated about the fact that a lack of integrity is often rewarded in our culture today. Most of the time, someone who is willing to cut corners will benefit from that decision. The most frustrating thing about this concept is that it punishes ethical people for having integrity. Those not willing to break the rules for their own personal gain are left behind by those who are.
After the lecture in class my reaction changed. Dr. Smith spoke about how being successful is largely dependent on how you define success. If you think about it from that perspective, competence doesn’t trump integrity. Integrity always wins if maintaining your integrity is your own personal definition of success.
Thank you Dr. Shaub for posting this blog. I completely agree that our society is headed down the wrong path in terms of appreciating people for their particular skill-sets, and then looking the other way when they lack moral fiber completely.
I think this quote by Ben Franklin would really help people like Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods, Braylon Edwards.. etc. “Let no pleasure tempt thee, no profit allure thee, no persuasion move thee, to do anything which thou knowest to be evil; so shalt thou always live jollity; for a good conscience is a continual Christmas.”
A good conscience is a continual Christmas. Hopefully there will be a shift in our society’s thinking, so we can celebrate Christmas, all year long.
This was a very good post. Recently, in a discussion about values and integrity, I noticed that some people were using the two words interchangeably. My point was that everyone values something, in fact, even thieves have values. After that, I wrote a short essay suggesting that we should want to find some sense of valuing integrity itself if we are to get anywhere with the topic, and sent it to the others in the group. Most of them continued on the old path, using “values” as a replacement for ethics, which of course, it isn’t.
It’s interesting to see this forgiveness of integrity when one is highly competent not just at corporate levels, but even in our classroom. When Pwc CFO Mike Burwell visited our class earlier this week, one of the points he covered was an ethical problem he is currently trying to solve back at his firm. A senior manager recently took out a representative of one of their major clients to a gentlemen’s club and tried to expense the multi-thousand dollar fee. Several students in the class argued the senior manager’s case that what he did should not warrant much punishment because he was doing it to service a large client. When this is showing already in the thoughts of students, I think the importance of integrity over competence really needs to be better expressed in the classroom.