After college, Scott took a retail sales job in technology products. Despite his excellent customer service scores, after several months his managers pulled him aside for slouching sales. The managers asked him what could be done to help boost his production. Scott took the opportunity to boldly disclose he had an ethical dilemma. He candidly explained how he could not sell one product over another, costing the customer about 150% more for nearly the same benefit.
Though the managers understood, one said, “Sometimes ethics and business don’t mix.” What?!
The other manager added, “If XYZ Product Company acted with ethics they wouldn’t be in business.” Double what?! This was shocking to Scott for a number of reasons.
While Scott is no angel, he didn’t feel he could rip people off who trusted him and still have a clear conscience, just to please his managers.
Not only are his franchise owners on a completely different values plane than Scott, he also had to grapple with the reality that a major corporation was acting just as deceitfully. Was this true, or were his managers just saying this to try to sway him?
As a young adult, Scott is faced with the massive ethical dilemma to succumb to the system or to stand his ground. Whatever decision he makes here will most likely guide the way he conducts himself in business the rest of his life, and how he will lead those after him.
This is when Scott called me, lamenting how he’s getting lambasted at work for doing the right thing. “Drew, is the world really this corrupt? The pressure is unbelievable, like there’s no support for trying to be honest.”
Of course Scott wants to make it in life, but does he have to sacrifice his personal integrity? “It’s so incredibly tempting to just join them and upsell,” he said, “But I just don’t know if I can live with myself if I do that. What about integrity?”
This is where the young adult meets society.
What is someone like Scott supposed to do? If everyone just went along with such managers, it reinforces unethical business practices and companies, and strengthens a corrupt society. If he does the right thing, will he be out of a job? Doesn’t the average person get infuriated with corrupt companies ripping off their customers without much recourse? Cable companies come to mind. The same thing happens in education and government. The only way anything will change is if enough young adults like Scott take a stand for integrity—but the personal risks are incredible.
What you think?