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Money Why we should celebrate business integrity when we see it

16:46  06 july  2018
16:46  06 july  2018 Source:   canadianbusiness.com

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business woman with halo: (JPM/Getty)© Used with permission of / © Rogers Media Inc. 2018. (JPM/Getty)

A friend of a friend of mine runs a mid-sized construction company in Latin America. As many readers will know, that industry in that region has a reputation for a relatively high degree of corruption, in particular bribery.

This friend-of-a-friend says he absolutely refuses to give bribes, in spite of the obvious temptations. When asked whether he loses business because of it, he is candid. “Yes, of course.” And when asked whether he still does lots of business, and still makes a good living, he is again candid: “Yes, for sure!”

When was the last time someone told you a story like that?

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  2 horses die of botulism at Nova Scotia animal rescue Two horses at Integrity's Haven Equine Rescue Centre Society in Chester Basin, N.S., have died as a result of botulism. A third horse is sick.The eight-year-old mare at Integrity's Haven Equine Rescue Centre Society in Chester Basin, N.S., bites into the hay but can't hold it in her mouth.

We don’t often enough tell stories of integrity when we talk about business ethics. As a professor, I know I’m guilty of this. What cases get discussed in a typical business ethics class? You know the list well. Enron. Volkswagen. Wells Fargo. Equifax. Walmart. Spend 12 weeks discussing companies like those and you could be forgiven for thinking that the world of business is a rotten place. For a student, that may mean graduating and heading off into a career armed with a particular preconception about what kinds of behaviours are normal in business, namely rotten ones.

But I’m convinced that good behaviour, by people of high integrity, goes on all the time in business.

This week’s case in point: a pharmacist in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, has decided to stop selling homeopathic remedies. Why? Because he looked at the available evidence (he’s got the relevant scientific training) and realized that there’s no good evidence that homeopathic remedies actually work.

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And as a business owner, and as a professional, he decided he simply couldn’t continue to sell those products.

(I’ve explained in a peer-reviewed paper why selling unproven health products is unethical. See: Alternative Medicine and the Ethics of Commerce.)

Feel free to disagree with me (and this pharmacist, and the entire scientific community) about the effectiveness of homeopathy. Feel free to swear that it works for you. My grandmother swore by the power of 4-leaf clovers. Others swear they’ve seen a psychic bend a spoon with his mind, or seen a magician saw a woman in half. The point is that this pharmacist has the training to evaluate evidence, and determined that—by the scientific standards his profession cleaves to—the evidence for homeopathy just isn’t there. Such a realization puts any qualified health professional who also happens to run a business in a sticky position. Do you sell something just because people will buy it? This one pharmacist’s answer, apparently, is “no.” It’s worth noting that the answer of most large pharmacy chains is “yes.”

2 zonkeys, 1 horse diagnosed with botulism at Equine rescue

  2 zonkeys, 1 horse diagnosed with botulism at Equine rescue Integrity's Haven Equine Rescue Centre Society lost two horses to the deadly disease in June. Four more animals are now fighting to survive the sickness. According to the centre's owner, Angela Welburn, the horses became sick after eating contaminated hay. Botulism is a progressive paralyzing disease which is fatal for most horses, according to the American Association of Equine Practitioners. For Welburn's sick animals, it means they're having a difficult time eating because they can't control their tongues. "If I cut up apples and carrots, like into tiny baby pieces, all the affected animals are able to eat it.

But back to my main point: we need to celebrate integrity when we see it. It’s out there. It may be more common than its absence, it’s just that bad behaviour gets all the press. That’s a shame, and we should all do our part to nudge things in the opposite direction once in a while. The public’s perception of the world of business would benefit from it. And my impressionable students—soon to be your youngest employees—will be shaped by it.

Chris MacDonald teaches ethics and critical thinking at theTed Rogers School of Management, where he is director of the Ted Rogers Leadership Centre, and is co-editor of the new (free, online) Concise Encyclopedia of Business Ethics.

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