Is Spam An Ethical Red Flag?

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By Linda Fisher Thornton

Consumers expect companies to respect boundaries. That allows them to live happy and meaningful lives without intrusion from companies that want them to “buy right now.”

Spam Violates Ethical Boundaries

When people get spam mail, email or blog comments, do they rush to click on the websites or buy the items advertised? Probably not. The reasons are a complex mix of changing expectations and higher ethical standards for business:

  • A barrage of unwanted information violates the boundary of respect for people’s time and space.
  • Sustainability is important, and fat envelopes with unwanted offers use up natural resources. 
  • Spam signifies that the organization is willing to do whatever it takes to get your business, making savvy consumers wonder “What else are they doing that isn’t good?”

Spam senders conveniently ignore information and privacy boundaries  – they do not honor people’s right to seek out the information they want, instead pushing the information they want people to haveThe privacy boundary is also a major issue in the discussion about technology-enabled smart marketing based on what people have viewed in the past.

Spam Creates a False Sense of Urgency

The spam that I see is generally for optional luxury goods. With these goods, the sender is trying to create a need and not fulfill one. Lauren Bloom describes how that can make us feel in The Ethics of Spam“There’s something sadly dehumanizing about all that in-your-face advertising.  If I’m really a valued customer, why are you pushing me to buy things I don’t want or need?”

Responsible Selling is Respectful

I realized when thinking about this problem, that I’ve never seen spam from a human rights organization. Why not? Perhaps companies that work based on positive ethical values care about their reputations, and realize that spam is not responsible.  Maybe they realize that people are less likely to buy from spammers. Responsible selling requires a respectful approach. As ethical expectations have increased, so have consumer reactions and legal penalties. 

How does spam inform us? Perhaps it is a red flag – not telling us to “purchase this product right now” but telling us that a company has questionable ethics.

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Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Learn how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.  

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

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Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

 

 

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)? – Part 3

By Linda Fisher Thornton

The first post in this series addressed ACCOUNTABILITY. The second asked you to evaluate your IMPACT. These four ways to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good) focus on MANAGING THE SYSTEM.

Ready to Change the Ethics Quo (For Good)?

Manage the System

  1. COMMUNICATE OPENLY ABOUT ETHICAL ISSUES: Are ethical expectations clear and widely communicated? Does widely communicated include open conversations about grey areas? If not, start those conversations, framing them as important ways to change the ethics quo and improve the organization. 
  2. BRING ETHICS TO LIFE: Does ethics have a life beyond procedures and the shelf full of ethics manuals? Are the materials readable and relatable so that people can succeed in applying them? Are they current? Are they followed? If not, find ways to bring ethics to life so that people know it’s “the way we do things” and not “that binder on the second shelf.”
  3. REWARD ETHICAL CHOICES: Is ethical behavior rewarded just as much as financial profitability (in promotions, awards and public recognition)? If not, the message of your ethics system is “we are ethical unless it interferes with making money.” Get it straight by making ethics at least as important as (or more important than) profits.
  4. INTEGRATE ETHICS INTO EVERYTHING: Is ethics an integrated part of all training and performance management instead of being “separate?” If ethics training is separate that may give the impression that ethics can be separated from good performance and good leadership. If performance is rewarded based on results and not ethics, you’ll get results without ethics. Make sure that ethics is a thread woven through every learning experience for every audience and through the fabric of your culture. 

We may think that things are going well when there are no major problems, but that’s a “false reading” for ethics. Without prevention and taking the steps recommended in this series, we will be “putting out fires” and cleaning up damage to our organization’s reputation. Don’t wait for that to happen. This week, work on these important ways to MANAGE THE SYSTEM.

Top 100 Leadership Blog

axiombronze

 

 

Prepare Your Leaders For Ethical Leadership Future – Help Them Learn To See Through The 7 Lenses®. 

Learn how ethical expectations are increasing, and what you can do to stay ahead of the curve.  

Click the cover to read a free preview!

 

LeadinginContext.com  

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership®

©2016 Leading in Context LLC

Case Study: Overwhelmed

OverwhelmedBy Linda Fisher Thornton

“The issue of the overwhelmed employee looms large” according to Josh Bersin, Bersin by Deloitte. (Are You an Overwhelmed Employee? New Research Says Yes, LinkedIn, March 11, 2014). Employees are having a hard time managing an overload of information and tasks, and the problem is not getting any better as technology use continues to increase.

Have you ever gone to your manager to ask for help prioritizing your tasks? Usually we try to avoid it, and do it only as a last resort when we are overwhelmed. It may surprise you to know that how managers answer gives us a clue about their priorities, ethics and values. Let’s listen in as a manager responds to an overwhelmed employee who has come to her for help. 

Take 1

Employee Request: I’m working on 10 major projects, and all of them have tight deadlines. I’m getting behind and I’m not sure which ones are the highest priority. Can you help?

Manager Response:  They’re all important. I’m sure you’ll figure out how to get them all done.

Ethics and Values Insights: This manager has probably not communicated a set of values that should guide the employee’s work. She may not know how to prioritize the tasks herself, and is therefore not able to help her employee. Worse, she shows no compassion for the stress the employee is feeling, and the courage it must have taken to be willing to ask for help. She does not demonstrate respect or care for the employee or her work.

Without guiding values and a formal way to decide on priorities, work is overwhelming and lacks meaning.

Take 2

Employee Request: I’m working on 10 major projects, and all of them have tight deadlines. I’m getting behind and I’m not sure which ones are the highest priority. Can you help?

Manager Response:  There is a lot going on. Let’s take a look at your projects and how they support our top three department goals. Projects that support our top department goals will almost always have the highest priority, regardless of the deadlines… (reviews projects with employee). So that makes these two your top priorities. Let’s go back to the internal clients on these three lower priority projects to renegotiate the time frames.

Employee: That will help a lot, but both of those top two projects are due in the next three weeks. It will still be a challenge to get everything done.

Manager:  Give it your best effort this week and keep me posted on how it’s going. If you find that you still need help, I’ll see if someone from the product team can pitch in and help you one day a week. 

Ethics and Values Insights: This manager shows compassion for the stress the employee is feeling and offers to help, showing care and concern. She clearly knows the department’s priorities and sees her leadership role as enabling the success of her employees. It is clear that she values this employee and sees enabling her success as a leadership priority. Her leadership is based on the ethical values of respect and care.

With guiding values and a formal way to decide on priorities, work seems manageable, and employees feel valued. 

Dale Carnegie’s report “What Drives Engagement and Why It Matters” (White Paper, 2012) revealed that a “caring” manager is one of the key elements that drives employee engagement. So managers, let’s remove “It’s all important. I’m sure you’ll figure it out” from our vocabularies. It not only lacks respect and care, which are important ethical values, it also signifies that we are overwhelmed and incapable of helping employees sort things out.

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For more, see Linda’s book 7 Lenses and the 21 Question Assessment: How Current is My Message About Ethics?

7 Lenses is a Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner in Business Ethics41cEVx-Tu4L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_
2014  Bronze Axiom Business Book Award Winner 
About 7 Lenses
 
 
Info@LeadinginContext.com  @leadingincontxt  @7Lenses

© 2014 Leading in Context LLC 

 

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