There was recently a story about the travails of Strive Masiyiwa of EcoNet. It talks about how he refused to give bribes to carry out business operations in the country, and paid the price by being booted out of a deal. There have been too many instances to count, of companies having to pay huge bribes to get juicy contracts. Sometimes, bribery slime goes as high as the highest level of governance in the land.
That Econet Story prompted this article.. the propriety / expediency of being upright in business (and other) dealings, refusing to give bribes, staying ethical and other such niceties when doing so has a very high price..
On hearing about the story of how Masiwa refused to give a bribe in Nigeria, and stood up for what is morally right, someone gave resounding praises, that we need more people like this in the business terrain, bla bla.
Gbosa for Masiyiwa, he quipped.
A sceptic then asked,
Na gbosa would bring money into the company coffers? At the end of the day, is it ethics that would pay the shareholders?
Like a Danfo driver refusing to “settle” Agbero and Police quickly on the altar of propriety, morality or ethics, what would he tell the bus owner about ‘delivery’ for the day, in the evening? Stories?
If you were going for a critical business meeting, accidentally committed a traffic offence, would you quickly pay a bribe to a demanding traffic officer, or would you forfeit that appointment while insisting on doing the right thing?
The issue of morality versus ethics in business and life (generally), is a very contentious one. It is very easy to sit in judgement until we find ourselves in a tight situation. Surely, there are many instances in life where we are challenged to pick between what is right and what is expedient?.
Can you always trust yourself to do the correct thing? Always?
Life and death
If as a mother, you need serious funds to save the life of your only child who is on admission for an urgent kidney transplant, would you refuse to sleep with.your moneyed and randy husband’s friend (after exhausting all the other feasible alternatives)? Or, would you capitulate and throw ethics to the dogs?
Indecent Proposal, anyone?
We all need to earn a living.
As a policeman who wants to be upright and be a shining light to other colleagues, would you refuse to take bribes even when your take_home pay can never take you home, and there are perpetually urgent bills to settle?
This reminds me of the policeman who was saying that what he earns monthly officially is not up to a third of his minimal expenses in that same month. Therefore, there is simply no way he would not have to take bribes to augment his salary. A matter of survival.
Businesses must make money
Sony is saying they would exit the smartphone market if they don’t return to productivity by next year. Could the CEO be blamed if he does something underhand and unethical to keep the company afloat?
-Businesses routinely fire company CEOs for not meeting shareholders’ expectations.
-Football coaches have their contracts terminated for abysmal performances by the club they coach.
Would you cut corners, or operate on the brink of the wrong side of ethics to save your head, your family, company, or country? What would make you cross over to Unethical Land? Survival, Money, power, fame, what? Love?
The Volkswagen Emission Saga is still on. Volkswagen, despite being one of the largest producer of motor vehicles has not really been making much profits compared to the other class leaders like the cash rich Toyota and Honda. Perhaps desperation to be more profitable pushed the former CEO into the unethical dealings that eventually cost him is position and plunged the company into crisis?
Would you do something unethical for an ethical end (like saving your marriage, or a life)
Are there ever any extenuating circumstances or excuses for cutting corners, being unethical or dishonest?
Food for thought.