Wednesday, November 14, 2007

An Interest in Corporate Green

So...conflict of interest and corporate social responsibility are the hot topics of the moment.

Conflict of interest...I would first like to start out by saying that conflict of interest is something we as social humanbeings face from birth to death nearly everyday. You're 16 and you want to go to that big party, but you don't want to make your parents mad, who hold the keys to your car and subsequently your freedom. Conflict of interest. You get a little older, you're in your twenties, you find out your best friend is cheating on her boyfriend, who is also your friend. Do you tell the boyfriend, or stay loyal to the friend? Conflict of interest. You graduate college, and you're in your nice, new cushy corporate job. You find out your new tenured friend at work maybe be fudging some numbers, but you don't want to be a whistle blower and crush your job dreams. Conflict of interest.

The difference lies in the fact that when the office elite and highly powerful (thus highly visible) CEOs of our nation decide to take the not so intelligent road when faced with a conflict of interest, we all see it. You may piss off your parents, your best friend my disown you, and your boss my fire you...but America doesn't care about Joe Schmo...they do, however, care about Lance Armstrong accepting money for cancer research from big tobacco. Case and point.

Corporate social responsibility...I think that all of these new ethics inspired groups, and interest in the environment are wonderful. That is if the codes and standards are actually enforced. There's a million laws in America (like the often joked about "no spitting on the sidewalk" rule) that are either to antiquated, or so off the wall that they are never enforced. For many years I believe green practices were one of those of the wall social laws. Now that we have faces like Al Gore spreading the green word, instead of Albert Einstein-esque, kooky scientist, more people are beginning to listen. More and more businesses are beginning to look in to ethical practices and environmental betterment, and I personally think that's great. Maybe in the future we can actually create ethical and environmental laws, instead of just loose standards and codes, and the world could be become a better (and greener) place to live in.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Squashing Spiders

I am thoroughly convinced by corporate America that business in these United States is just one giant conflict of interest. Money is money to those people, and as long as those ever-deepening pockets keep overflowing, why would they care where the money is coming from.

It's no longer about conflict of interest, it's about money, money, money. Making it, taking it, and keeping it.

On the other hand, I think it's the job of PR professionals to promote ethical use of celebrity and ethical advocacy (unlike Governor Perry and Lance Armstrong's buddy buddy proposition on this week's ballot.) The corporate world is one jumbled mess of money, deceit, and greed and it's our job in the world of PR to untangle the web string by string and squash the corrupted CEO spider attached at the end.

I mean, come on, no logically ethical person thinks it is even remotely acceptable to promote cancer research with money from cigarette companies, or advertise the ADA on sugary snacks...but it still happens every single day. Business takes money, and if your "enemy" is throwing money at your cause why (from a business standpoint) wouldn't you take it.

That's why everyone needs a good PR person to slap them on the wrist and say "Bad Lance, no cigarette money for you!"

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mamet and The Shark Tank

So, I kind of feel like I'm beating a dead horse since we talked about this SO much already, but here goes...

I think Mamet's assertions about the marketing world are comparative to a shark tank. Marketers view their customers as minnows swimming around in circle after circle just waiting to be sold to, or eaten up by the marketing sharks. I am of the opinion that the world of marketing is not a very just, fair, or ethical one, but such is life. Mamet says that anything that can be sold will be sold, no matter if the buyer intended to buy it or not. Marketing is a cut throat business, and there are only so many consumers out there before you have to start "recycling the leads," so I guess Mamet is ultimately saying you better kill or be killed.

His characters are desperate, nervous, angry, and at times utterly stupid. Inside their fishbowl there's not far they can go without running in to glass, and there's only so much food to feast on before someone dies from starvation. The top sellers then become the sharks, and the bottom half of the chalkboard are now the minnows.

I can safely say the marketing tank is NOT the pond I want to swim in. I think I'd be better suited in the colorful world of Nemo!

P.S. The Cowboys LOST, so at least I didn't have to see the massacre!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Angry Applites

So, I missed class this week due to what I believe to be food poisoning. Whether it was or not, it sucked!

I have, however, been working on my case study and it seems as though there are a lot of angry Appleities out there. I am still being together the case timeline, and the thought of delving in to the ethics of this case is momentarily overwhelming, because there is just so much to address.

When I wrap my brain around the ethical avalanche from this case I will have a little more to report!

Monday, September 24, 2007


Steve Jobs and Apple's IPhone

Five Fundamental Truths (in no particular order)
  1. Justice
  2. Humaneness
  3. Truth
  4. Stewardship
  5. Freedom
...and their tensions

  1. Justice
  • Price cuts being legal no matter the time line vs. justice for the people who "overpaid" for their product
2. Humaneness
  • Steve Jobs being fair to all Apple customers vs. Jobs trying to make a profit for his company regardless of customer's feelings
3. Truth
  • Jobs being open and apologizing to customers vs. Jobs telling half-truths and apologizing only when he was forced to
4. Stewardship
  • Adopting more new customers, with the assumed cause of creating better technology vs. satisfying existing customers
5. Freedom
  • Jobs' freedom to charge whatever he chooses as head of Apple vs. Customer's freedom not to purchase Apple products

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Chapters 4-6: Story Telling and When Values Start to Speak

As you (Dr. Lambaise) mentioned in lecture Appiah intertwines his personal identity in each chapter of his book. Appiah brings up the point that part of human nature is telling stories, and he hammers this point home by doing just that, telling stories. He tells stories about his home in Ghana, the native religion (which includes witchcraft), his parents conflicting backgrounds, and he even interjects native Asante jargon. The stories Appiah tells help the reader to connect with the philosopher who's thoughts and views we will be digesting for the next hundred-some-odd pages, which Appiah would agree makes us begin to see the roots of being cosmopolitan, connecting with another human being.

Appiah veers in to a completely new idea involving the language of values in chapter four. Although we may live in the same society, we may not have the same agreement on the evaluation of values, definition of a value, or the degree to which a value should be enforced. For example (in the definition of values area), both pro-life and pro-choice Americans agree on the value of human life. The divide lies in pro-lifer's valuing that life begins at conception, and pro-choice supporters disagreeing that it is the mother's life to value and her right to choose. Same value, human life, very different meanings.

Interesting, as well, is Appiah's take that many human actions are those of habit. You do something because your parents did it, because their parents did it, because their parents did it, and so on. It does not mean it is not our belief, or it is not valued, but habits are a basic part of human nature that effects all citizens of the world.

Cosmopolitansim Chapters 1-3: The Personification of Cosmopolitanism and Un-equivical Beliefs

  • According to Appiah, yes, everybody matters. Just because we may not agree on beliefs or values, does not mean someone does not matter, whether we think they're right or wrong.
  • I think by default if everybody matters that would include people in corporate America's supply chains. Appiah includes everyone in 'citizens of the world' which is who his model aims to talk about, which includes corporate Americans.

Appaih starts his book by providing the reader with the roots of cosmopolitanism. By telling where cosmopolitanism was born (with the Cynics of the fourth century BC), who it's been spending time with over the years (the Stoics, Immanuel Kant, Christoph Martin Wieland to name a few), and where it's future is headed (how we use cosmopolitanism as 'citizens of the world'), Appiah personifies the 'thin' word cosmopolitanism in to a 'thick' person from the start.

The basic idea of 'live and let live' is what Appiah stresses as the foundation of cosmopolitanism (in many more words.) We may not believe the same as another, but the human desire to agree allows us to accept the 'what' of another being's beliefs, even if we do no agree on the 'why.' In a nutshell, if you believe in Christ and I believe in Allah, we can talk about works of art, and not want to murder each other for our fundamental beliefs. Thus, understanding other citizens of the world and even other citizens within our own societies, is a fundamental value of cosmopolitanism.