What kind of “person” is your organization?

In recent years there have been many examples of failed moral judgement. The Domino’s Pizza disaster or similar cases to see what can happen when a company’s responsibility goes unchecked.

In these days, a wrong decision can be exposed very quickly to the world and can devastate a business. As a result,companies are expected to make sure that they’re sure that they are take social and moral responsibility for their actions. Organizations like Apple, who is known for using manufacturers who have bad reputations, walk a fine line when trying to stay ethical in the consumer’s eyes.

Creating a ethical persona throughout an organization starts at the top. Having executives who are transparent and deliberate, and support ethical development are key to help a business adapt to dilemmas it encounters. With strong executive support and an open policy to making important decisions, it makes it much easier for a company to react to a situation when encountered.

For example, Dominos Pizza in 2009 discovered a problem when 2 employees posted a video of themselves defacing a pizza before giving it to customers. The video resounded among those who saw it and the question emerged,  “How could this happen?” It was a dramatic example of what happens when the product or sale becomes more important than the responsibility expected of the company. After the video, Dominos took ownership of the situation (bold move) and pledged that they would rectify the situation and the quality o their pizza, which was also getting terrible reviews. After a transition process, Dominos introduced new recipes and products with much higher quality and took it upon itself to maintain this new higher quality, rather than go on pushing barely adequate products.

Now this is just one example of how companies are viewed. Many people have a view in their minds of what a company would be like if they were a “person.” How they deal with issues, go about their business and the people who represent them creates a persona that anyone outside the organization “sees.”

However, sometimes for many large companies it is hard not to look like the “big, bad business.” Microsoft recently lost another lawsuit with a small Canadian technology firm, i4i, over a patent dispute included in Word. i4i won the decision and was applauded by many for “sticking it to the big guy.”  This was a small example but Microsoft has also been on the other side of many lawsuits, where their own products have been infringed. In many cases, this is a lose-lose situation, because if they don’t pursue legal action they let their intellectual property become abused. However, if they take legal action they are viewed as tyrants and accused of “stepping on the little guy.” Microsoft and other large companies struggle with these personas regularly.

Above all, without a strong moral presence at all levels of the organization, there will always be problems when dilemmas are encountered. But if a company keeps an open mind and encourages its workforce to act ethically and in a way that personifies the company that they work for.

Heath, Joseph. Business Ethics and (or As) Political Philosophy, Accessed on June 13, 2011. http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.kwantlen.ca:2080/ehost/detail?sid=0d02a831-e77f-401f-b7cc-a8e82cfeea11%40sessionmgr10&vid=1&hid=19&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl

Barreto, Manuel. Domino’s Pizza Youtube video scandal, Accessed on June 13, 2011. http://lab.77agency.com/new-media-tips/dominos-pizza-youtube-video-scandal-what-to-learn-from-it-2120/

Weinstein, Bruce, We Need an Ethics Czar, Bloomberg Business Week, Acessed on June 13, 2011. http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/mar2009/ca20090313_869103.htm





2 Responses to “What kind of “person” is your organization?”
  1. Companies do have a persona that they need to be responsible for and neglecting it can create the wrong public view. One thing that I notice is that small companies tend to have a very strong persona as the owner and the company are very closely linked. As they grow, however the business appears to be more detached from their persona from when they started. This tends to be necessary for the company to grow, but the persona can get lost in what it wants to attain verses why it is here in the first place. Today, I find more companies are aware of this issue and are trying to address it. As a good persona generates a good business.

    Last, I also believe that this topic ties in very well with corporate culture blog post below:


    Thanks for sharing your blog.

  2. Calvin Yan says:

    You mentioned that ethical behaviour and persona starts at the top. However, sometimes those people at the top value generating larger profits rather than looking out for the greater good of the community, their customers, and their employees.

    Awhile ago, I saw the documentary “The Inside Job”, which talked about how the actions of banks and the greed of top executives resulted in the economic crisis that left many people financially devastated in the United States. For those who haven’t seen the film, I encourage you to watch it as it talks about many ethical issues. One example is that certain academic economists wrote what was considered to be their expert, unbiased opinions. In fact though, they were paid by financial institutions to write these opinions which obviously benefited the financial institutions. Clearly this is a case of conflict of interest.

    Here’s a trailer for the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzrBurlJUNk

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