Do the Right Thing.

In today’s business world many companies state that Do the Right Thing is part of their mission. Some take it seriously, but unfortunately many more don’t. (PS I don’t think they are referring to the 1989 Spike Lee movie set in Brooklyn either-good movie by the way–a must see if you didn’t see it years ago). In fact if “Do the Right Thing” was truly one of the guiding principles of Enron, Tyco, Adelphia, WorldCom, and more recently Bear Sterns, Goldman Sachs et al, then the economy may have not sunk into its current state. We are still reaping the fruits of a corrupt economy of the past decade which allowed and encouraged businesses and the public alike to take the easy way out, make expedient decisions with no future vision. We hit our day of financial reckoning in 2008 and almost two years later many businesses are still struggling to rebound.

It occurs to me that many companies may mouth “Do the Right Thing” platitudes but, at the moment of choice, display none of the integrity they claim. I am very wary of those who “claim” integrity as a core value. Most importantly, integrity needs to be demonstrated, not articulated. And it needs to be demonstrated under duress when the temptation to fib and obfuscate is greatest.

The company that currently disappoints me the most  is Toyota. I’ve written about them in the past –February 6, 2010

When I first wrote about them just two months ago the depth of their issues was not fully understood and they were in the denial mode claiming floor mat problems resulted in sudden and unintended acceleration of their vehicles. Here’s the latest:

The government accused Toyota of hiding a “dangerous defect” and proposed a record $16.4 million fine (the maximum possible fine) for failing to quickly alert regulators to safety problems in gas pedals of popular models. “We now have proof that Toyota failed to live up to its legal obligations,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Worse yet, they knowingly hid a dangerous defect for months from U.S. officials and did not take action to protect millions of drivers and their families.” And there may be more fines to follow.

I am disappointed deeply in Toyota, not just because of their despicable corporate behavior, but more because I thought highly of them previously and yet they continue to this day to demonstrate the poorest, most short-sighted vision in handling a serious issue. People’s lives are at stake and yet they continue to stall and outright lie when coming clean early might have won them more respect.

I hope they don’t have “Do the Right Thing” written on their walls. If they did, they’d have been wise to have heeded the advice.

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