There is a spark of hope in this world where so many people think they can define right and wrong to their benefit. There is a spark of hope in this world where so many people think morality is based on human consensus.
When I was in industry, when I was an independent consultant and when I was a teacher, I encountered suppliers, customers, clients, employees and students who did what ever they thought would line their pockets or raise their grades. If they had any morality at all, the moral code was what rules benefitted them best. As an old cynic, I was beginning to think the world was rapidly slipping down the sewer pipe into the septic tank.
Traditionally our Judo-Christian morals were derived from the Bible. Whether one was a believer or not, those under the influence of Judaism or Christianity established moral codes based on what the thought would please or displease God.
Unfortunately there are some people and some societies who believe they can write their own moral code based on what they think is right. In the long run, they end up writing morals that are to their benefit. And then while I was teaching school, I went to a seminar on discipline and was told of CD students who have no morality at all and no conscience. They simply do what pleases them. As the seminar leader talked, I thought, I have two such students in my second period class. No wonder I have such problems.. Many of the problems in our country and the world are the result of disappearing morality.
I was pleased last night to open the alumni magazine, Northwestern, of my alma mater. There on the back page was a reprint of an article by Claire Lew, an alumnus. The original article is at this link.
Ms. Lew is CEO of a software company. She learned from one customer of an error in the programming of a product that put each of their customers in an embarrassing position. Depending on the situation and the circumstances, the customers could have encountered serious moral problems. In this litigious society, the customer could have been sued by an employee.
Ms. Lew faced an ethical problem. Only one customer had informed her of the defect, that customer had not even filed a complaint. She could have assumed no one else had even noticed, and on that basis, she could have made the decision to bury the problem.
To her credit, she did what old fashioned ethics call for. She wrote personal e-mail to the CEO of each of her customers explaining and apologizing. She does not say so in the article, but I assume her programmers must have been rushing at that moment to correct the program coding.
As it turned out, her customers congratulated her on her honesty and integrety. What she did, improved her company’s image, but even if she had received negative feedback, what she did was the ethical thing. I see a great future for her and her company.
As I finished the article, I was about to say, “Of course, Claire Lew must be an old time businessman like me,” but the credits show her to be from the class of 2011. That means she graduated 46 years behind me. She is one of the “young kids” that us oldsters have been ready to write off as being totally amoral.
Ethics are still alive in the business community, and Claire Lew proves it. My hat is off to you Claire.