For the past few years corporate America has been rocked by many scandals.
First there was the Enron debacle, followed by Anderson, Global Crossing, Qwest, WorldCom and endless others.
What went wrong?
Reclaiming The Ethical High Ground, authored by John Di Frances, attempts to explore some of the root causes of the malaise and to offer suggestions as to its treatment.
The author is an executive business advisor and professional speaker with thirty years of international business experience. For the past twenty years he has been a managing partner of Di Frances & Associates and many of the firm’s clients have included Fortune 100 and middle market corporations, as well as government agencies and non-profit foundations.
Armed with a wealth of references, Di Frances methodically exposes how certain companies have shown a lack of integrity and are motivated by pure profit. In other words, the end justifies the means. If you are profitable, it does not matter what methods you use, be they creative accounting, fraud or otherwise.
Moreover, Di Frances argues that executive leaders very often buy into the “lie” that high ethical standards and business are incompatible. He states, “we tend to perceive tangible outcomes as our goal and thus focus all of our attention on achieving tangible results.”
He also notes that the objectives of many companies are solely centered around profit growth, enhancement of shareholder value, business growth, increased productivity, cost control, employee retention, motivated workforce, improved product and service quality, customer loyalty and increased market share.
Absent from these objectives is something that is intangible, appropriate moral and ethical business behavior.
Di Frances offers a blueprint of ethical business principles that he feels should be imbedded into a company’s modus operandi.
When I asked him what makes his book different from the many others pertaining to business ethics, his reply was: “Directness! Most of what I have seen written on ethics in business may identify the problem, but tends to waltz around the issue of solution. I don’t and I am certain some people do not like my book for that reason. I do not believe that ethics is subjective or gray and up to interpretation. I call a spade a spade in the book and I attack head-on the issue of right and wrong.”
There is no doubt that the author has succeeded in his objectives.
The author’s bold approach will certainly “rattle a few feathers,” however, this is the kind of straight talk we need to hear from more of our business leaders.
Interview With Author