Morality in Business- Does it Matter to You?

Over the past months, I have been thinking a lot about why institutions do business with one vendor versus another. Perhaps, as a decision-maker or influencer, you are also thinking about why you do business with one vendor versus another.

While it's not generally acceptable conversation, I believe that honest and trustworthy people do business or "select" vendors that they believe they can trust. And, I choose to believe that most people are honest and trustworthy.

Of course, there are those among us that do business with vendors for other reasons. Those are the morally corrupt that we may or may not know. These people do business for reasons that some of us do not understand, nor do we choose to try to comprehend.

We are all at the mercy of those that we do business with. As buyers, we trust that we will receive the products and services that we buy.  Sometimes we need favors. While we may have contracts that are enforceable, we all hope that we never have to refer to them.  We need suppliers and/or vendors to prioritize our work.  In the end, we are all trying to decide who to trust. If we fail, we may not have work  (we may be fired for making poor decisions or selections). Perhaps you've heard that "nobody ever got fired for doing business with IBM".  Or, we might be embarrassed by our allegiance. We do not have to look too far as a group of people that care about education to agree that poor decisions can lead to career-ending embarrassments.

Whether you represent a public or a private institution, if you accept federal financial aid (at the least), you are vulnerable as you make decisions for new or repeat technology commitments. Do you stand up for what you believe is right? Or, do you make decisions for another reason? 

I know of decision-makers who have selected vendors based on, let's just say less than transparent vendor comparisons. The decision-makers and the vendor representatives were apparently willing to risk potential time in jail for personal favors.

So, while I do not expect anyone to respond to this blog, I hope that it 'might' you thinking: "am I making decisions for the right reasons?", and perhaps, more importantly at the least (for a few of you), "could I lose my job and be embarrassed for the decision I'm making?"

If you think the answer is something that you might be embarrassed by, then rethink it!

I suspect that that there are those that might wonder if they are involved in something that is questionable. Others, have no moral compass. For those, this blog is simply irrelevant. If you have a moral compass, then you know what I mean! There are people that make decisions based on questionable influences. 

Perhaps it's like the classes at UNC Chapel Hill for athletes.  Unless you've been under a rock, you've heard the news this week. For years, people looked the other way. Some may have known it was wrong and were not willing to stand up for what was right. Everyone knows that it happens and turns away, so others are supposed to "look" the other way. Is it part of the culture that you work in? If so, you need another job!  Not every company or institution operates this way.

It seems to me that this is the same issue that higher education is complaining about. Students don't see any issue with cheating. If they see something they want, they take it. I sat with a trustee for a College at AACT on Friday. She told me that one of the biggest problems that education faces is that some students do not have any moral standards. They simply have never been exposed to right and wrong. It does not have meaning.

Morality is a matter of personal principal and choice.  I hope that some of us will agree that "wrong" is clear. 

Recently, I was reminded of a sales representative that worked in my group more than 15 years ago. "She" decided that the fastest and best way to achieving quota was to let's just say provide personal favors to decision-makers. While she made her quota back then, nobody knows where she is today.

Do what you believe is right! Stand up for honesty and integrity.

Think about the price in the long-term. (Assuming that you have a conscience.)

Vicki Tambellini


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