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Archive for the ‘Business Ethics’ Category

Empathy can be literally defined as:

em·pa·thy [ émpəthee ]   Audio player

  1. understanding of another’s feelings:the ability to identify with and understand somebody else’s feelings or difficulties
  2. attribution of feelings to an object:the transfer of somebody’s own feelings and emotions to an object such as a painting

[ Early 20th century. < Greek empatheia “affection, passion” ]

 Ashoka Fellow Molly Barker, Founder of Girls on the Run International®, who has been working to build-up Ashoka’s Empathy Initiative. suggests the following:

Empathy has been a hot topic at the summit. Typically considered a soft skill and not necessarily essential to leadership (at least in the traditional sense), Bill Drayton, Founder of Ashoka, has uncovered a number of thematic connections between all of those folks who are social entrepreneurs. Empathy has been and continues to be at the top of that list.

Empathy is one of those things … “things” because I’m not sure precisely what to call it … that I’ve taken for granted. I was raised in a very empathetic home. My family members are empathetic. My children are empathetic and most everyone – heck, EVERYONE! – I work with is empathetic. I’ve naturally, based on my own experiences, assumed that most people would understand why empathy is essential to being human … a kind of “duh” sort of thing. A clear and VERY obvious outcome of Girls on the Run is the ability of every girl and coach to give and receive within an empathetic context.

In my mind, without empathy we lack the ability to deeply connect with another living creature. Empathy affords us the experience of being one in experience with another, putting aside our own ego, the need to be right, and being with the emotions of another. It doesn’t mean fixing them, making the emotions go away or enabling the individual. To me it simply means being with their emotions without interference from me.

via So how do you get empathy, anyway? (Hint: You won’t find it in a lecture.) | Ashoka.org.

As an advocate, I am always under the impression that being with empathy is demonstrating a concern and understanding of the here and now of the caller/person communicating with (no matter the mode of communication).  It isn’t a time of formulating one’s opinion of the situation; it is more important to sort through options and more options for the situation given at hand, as well as providing emotional support and guidance for catapulting forwarding to the light at the end of the tunnel, in order to move forward to, hopefully, without the burdens of the crisis situations at hand.

People need to have a voice in their lives moving forward, they need to see and weigh out the options available for them (because when in crisis mode, you rarely see through the mist of the tears caused by the emotional and/or physical pain currently enduring); however, they need to know that they aren’t crazy, that they have lives that are valued, and that they can do things and make great decisions that affect their own lives, as well as those around them.

How do YOU see empathy?  How do you apply empathy in your daily lives?

 

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Stumbled upon this site from a friend on facebook the other day.  It has a lot of interesting features, including (but, not necessarily limited to) the below:

Legislative Advocacy

As an organization fully committed to advancing justice for consumers, NACA is actively engaged in promoting a fair and open marketplace that forcefully protects the rights of consumers, particularly those of modest means.

Today the fundamental consumer protections that we have depended upon to ensure fairness and justice are under attack. This can be seen in the watering down of federal regulations, the prevalence in consumer contracts of forced arbitration clauses that deny consumers their right to be heard by an unbiased court or jury of their peers, and the ever growing presence of unscrupulous and deceptive business practices that trip and trap consumers into predatory loans, unscrupulous fees, and unconscionable contract terms.

NACA is focused on promoting an agenda that lays the groundwork for rebuilding a consumer justice system that will be based on our nation’s fundamental sense of fairness, equity and honesty. Our agenda items include ensuring that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau holds corporations and businesses accountable for their predatory practices, fighting to ban the unfair practice of forced arbitration, staunching the swelling tide of foreclosures, strengthening laws that protect consumers from predatory mortgage and unsecured credit lending, unfair debt collection practices, and abusive credit reporting.

via Legislative Advocacy – Consumer Advocates – NACA | National Association of Consumer Advocates.

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$31,244 is the average income of 90% of the income earners, which has only seen a change of 1% during 1970-2008.  As you climb the chart to see other ranges of earnings, the population gets smaller and smaller, but the change of income earned during this same time frame is increasing higher and higher.  Something is very wrong with this picture.

How are folks supposed to hold on to hope for economic change in the future, if 90% of the population is seeing the littlest of changes?

via (Not) spreading the wealth – The Washington Post.

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(Actually written 1/2/08:)

I saw a bumper sticker the other day and was puzzled slightly by what it said — “Those who abandon their dreams, will discourage others.”  Although I wrote it on my hand, and later on in my datebook journal I received as a Christmas gift, it just didn’t make sense to me until today.  After all, eventhough I haven’t achieved all of my dreams, I am still the cheerleader encouraging and empowering others to be able to move forward with their own dreams.

Today, though, I indeed had a v-8 moment and realized just what the bumper sticker could possibly mean.

For my living, I am an advocate for those who may not necessarily speak up for themselves.  Currently, I have found myself being an advocate for the elderly as part of my vocation and passion and, as a rule, I truly enjoy what I do.  One client though I have been struggling with to keep upbeat about it.

When I first started going to this client a few weeks ago, I was shocked by the care of his room.  While he may have incontinence, his room reaked of urine all over newspapers, bed linens, clothes, and such.  Apparently, he can’t remember to wear his “briefs”, the depends.  That, in itself is one thing, and makes my job enduring as each week I have to spend 3 hours waiting for the loads to wash through and I don’t feel like I can do this client justice fully because I don’t feel like I have as much time to visit with him, but he tends to stick things in the toilet and stops it up as well (ie, apparently he doesn’t like carrots so they end up in the toilet, which is very disgusting.  I end up having to call maintenance of the facility to come fix the toilet.  It shouldn’t get to the point it does.  The client has a phone; he could call for maintenance himself.  He also walks to the dining room each day; he could tell the management office his needs as well, but he chooses not to.  So, each week I return and I encounter much of the same thing.  You would think that someone wouldn’t want to stay in a room that smells like urine, much less sleep in wet sheets and covers each night.  Each week I keep thinking to myself, “Why, then, do I put myself through such turmoil?”

The answer lays in the fact that I continue to hope that I can make a difference in this man’s life, although, it appears that his level of care needs to be much higher.  This man, who used to not even move out of the bed, does now greet me at his door each week so I am doing something right, it would appear.

Too, while waiting for the clothese to be washed and dried, I’ve met other residents that walk (or, ride) by and they either wave or stop to talk to me for a bit.  I think that they are just happy to see someone else available to hear what they have to say about their day.  Some of them are now even introducing themselves to me with their names and inviting me to go visit them in their rooms — so many are just anxious to have company and companionship.  Even in an assisted living facility, so many residents keep to themselves, which is a shame.

Earlier this morning, I checked my Fubar page just as anyone might check their MySpace page or emails, and saw one of my best friends indicate that he was having trouble waking up this morning.  I called him and told him that, while he was having trouble waking up, I was having a great deal of trouble just motivating myself to move forward to go see this client this morning.  We were talking about why I was having trouble in particular today and he set a positive tone for me by saying to me, “At least, you will have lots to blog about today,” and he was right.

Although I am discouraged by this man’s seemingly giving up on his dreams of having a great life in spite of his health problems, I am discouraged (just like the bumper sticker says).  However, what relights my enthusiasm for returning each week is the brightened eyees and smiles of others I see each week at this facility.  Today, I was surprised, too, in that this man didn’t stay in his room while I was tending to his laundry down the hall.  He actually got up and took the trash to the laundry room area and later he came down to the sitting area and talked with me for a bit telling me that the maintenance has come while I was down here.  Not only once though, but three times!  Maybe next week, he’ll actually sit down and talk to me?  At any rate, any progress made is certainly making way for encouragement that my advocacy is making a difference.

I’ll certainly have to remind myself that, as I crawl out of bed next Wednesday morning, while advocacy work can indeed be very discouraging, it is encouraging to see when folks be able to crawl out of their hinderances (sometime created by themselves) and start getting a little more excited about life.  That is the reward I get in lieu of great monetary salaries, a richness more fulfilling to living a life than making a huge income and not being able to stop and observe life for what it is.  Humanity is a precious regard on this earth; unfortunately, most people are too focused on making the big bucks that they often forget the joys that would surround them if they would just stop and look!

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Does anyone actually achieve their dream job — or, is it just merely a figment of everyone’s imagination?

While someone may be doing the job they absolutely love to do, it may not pay all that well and they have to struggle to make ends meet.  Additionally, family members or friends may look down upon someone that isn’t mastering the financial ladder as someone that is being less than their full potential.

A friend was asking me tonight, who often plays “career coach” to me from time to time, what I want to be when I grow up.  If only I could pick and choose the qualities of each of my past jobs that I liked the best and make the ideal job that would be pleasing in all aspects — high income, advocacy, interaction with others, great researching skills, and so much more.

It was announced in the news and news media sources lately a lot about the newest generation of workforce employees are having a tendency to job hop more and have many more background experiences than their counterparts in generations slightly ahead of them.   No longer, for instance, is the trend that people people have jobs for more 20 or more years.  It would be unheard of, perhaps, to see these generation of workers retiring with a job of tenure of 40-50 years of service, as my bosses’ generations have done.

My parents will be celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this month.  Gone, too, are the days that many couples will look forward to see the day of having a 50th wedding anniversay, while couples in my parents’ generation and before saw 50th and 75th wedding anniversaries as part of the norm of the culture.

What has happened to our culture?  or, do we even have a culture to be considered these days?  What is to be considered about the American society?  Are we all going to be judged by the people who lead us — or what affect we, as individuals have upon our local and global societies?

Okay.  So, I have digressed. 

Does anyone actually achieve their dream job — or, is it just merely a figment of everyone’s imagination?

Does anyone have an answer????

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See the inspiring speaker, Barack Obama, as he spoke in Austin on February 23, 2007:

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45jM2DKwCKI]

What could be better than watching the next President of the United States at a classic Texas hillside ampitheater?

It’s going to be beautiful weather, and we look forward to seeing you this Saturday afternoon at The Backyard.

Who:
Sen. Barack Obama

When:
Doors open at 3:00pm
Saturday, November 17

What:
Live music from Fastball
Guest: $25
Student: $15
After-party at Victory Grill

Where:
The Backyard
13101 Highway 71 West
Austin, TX 78738

click here: Reserve your ticket

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notice that their DO NOT CALL notice is about to expire and their numbers will be fair game once again to hound you during dinnertime about needless stuff once again!

Especially, if you are one of those that did the DO NOT CALL notices back in 2003, it is high time that you do it again — or, have you got a new phone number that you haven’t put in a notice on???  Better do it soon!!

It just takes a few moments to do…. DO NOT CALL registration site!! Don’t procrastinate!!

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Quite possibly! In response to another blogger’s blog posting, I responded:

“It is indeed something to think about… China, Mexico, and many other countries are mass producing things for us….

but, flags have to rise when are products are being imported tainted with things that could kill each and every one of us and the environment we know it to be.

As ecological conscience we Americans are purported to be, you would think that the ecological organizations would also rise to the occasion to speak out and alert American Businesses to quickly begin to rethink our mass productions to be done here in the States for the safety consideration of one and all here.

Can you tell? It most certainly has been on my mind lately……”

What was his blog posting…. See below:

“With a lot of manufacturing jobs moving over to China, are we setting ourselves up for failure???? Hmmmmmmm…….

Let’s look at the facts that have been uncovered in recent months. I’ll start with the mass pet food recall that killed several pets. The cause of the recall was because of contaminated ingredient glutin, which was imported from China.

It gets worse. The U.S. is importing seafood from China. Some of it is farm raised in ponds that the EPA would condem. This food is not being properly inspected and tested by the FDA. Yet, we Americans keep buying it.

And for the latest, Matel is recalling millions of toys because the paint used on them contains excessive amounts of lead. And these toys are made guess where… That’s right! China.

Are we really better off getting our food and goods from China? They could be taking us down without us even knowing it. What would happen if the U.S. got involved in a major war similar to WWII? We would not have the manufacturing capabilities to produce the goods necessary to defend ourselves like we did during WWII. We will not have the experienced workers necessay to man the factories, let alone the factories to make the goods.

Think about it………”

What do you think? Have you been trying to sort out the madness lately in the news????

 

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I worked for Michael Dell back in the day when it was known as PC’s Limited (off of N. Lamar and Hwy 183),  an Austin, Texas based computer company, as its 13th employee and enjoyed the transition of its growth to Dell Computer Corporation, which is now known simply as DELL.

Opening up the Austin American Statesman newspaper today to the Business Section while getting some breakfast to go at the local IHOP, I read about the City of Leander’s progress business projects and looked further down on the section’s first page and see “Dell gets until July 16th to report finances”.  Apparently, DELL hasn’t filed its financials for more than four quarters. 

According to Dan Zehr, American Statesman Staff, “The NASDAQ has allowed Dell shares to continue trading despite the company’s failure to file reports with federal regulators after each of the past four quarters.  Exchange rules require that companies keep current on their reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission, but the exchange often grants reprieves for companies investigating accounting issues.”  Apparently, Dell isn’t disclosing the investigations at this time.  Even in March, the filing of its Annual Report had been delayed.

Things are sounding a bit shaky for Dell at this time.  Hopefully, they will be able to rebound from this struggle soon.

Any thoughts???

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I wanted to change the world.

But I have found that

the only thing one can be sure of changing

is oneself.

 

– Aldous Huxley

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Cartoon by Tom Toles.

Couldn’t help but be humored by this cartoon today because it does pose the question whether or not we would eat food produced elsewhere like we do for our pets.  The issue of the pet food problems containing an (albeit illegal in the US) ingredient called melamine, which is actually very toxic, but allowed in countries, such as China.

Maybe organic foods that we produce in our own gardens may be the better answer; but, then we need to take a look at the fertilizers that we use to raise our own food.  I know.  Organic is supposed to be foods that we produce without the need of any fertilizers, but even the Mom on King of the Hill cartoon show demonstrated in the school’s organic garden needs a little of influence to help keep the bugs away.  The trick is finding the fertilizers, at times, that produce the less risk to ourselves and our families and friends.

What is the answer for the dilemma?

Shouldn’t we be able to enforce our own FDA standards on those exports coming in?  If so, is it FDA that let us down by allowing the products to come through with the toxic melamine in our pet foods?

Who is responsible and accountable for all the deaths of pets fed with the tainted pet food???

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Just like in the previous posting about UT’s unethical woes of being wooed by lenders who offer special treats and favors to have a strong presence in their offices. It was rumored that the reason that Governor Perry, of Texas, was also wooed by Merck about the ovarian cancer drug that he was trying to make law that young, middle-school aged girls would have to take to help prevent the onset of the ovarian cancer. What might have actually been a good idea, the general public didn’t like the role that Merck might have had to persuade Governor Perry in the viability of the drug, which just so happened to be their own drug and they stood to profit emensly from the requirement being stated in law. The houses of the Texas legislation have voted it down, I believe, but Governor Perry is still convinced that it should be a law and continues to advocate for it.

 

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As much as I like the University of Texas as they are my parent’s alma mater and I live in the same city as the great university, I can’t stand the invalidation of a sense of ethical behavior.  UT’s Student Financial Services’ Office, as reported in today’s The Daily Texan Online seems to be under just that level of scrutiny right now as they have seemingly given preferrential treatment to those lenders who show “strong presence” in their office, especial through gifts and “treats”.

Everyone tends to give gifts to companies that they do business with to develop a relationship with the company.  The thing is, though, while it is a great marketing tool, it can be viewed with improprieties or being unethical if it is much more than taking cookies to all the employees occasionally to build awareness of their own services that they offer.  It is a marketing tactic that companies often use to set themselves apart from the other companies that might be vying for presence and usuability of their own services.  Just a part of doing business.

However, when things are gone overboard – trips, gifts, happy hours, and such are given – and the influence of these gifts influences the companies to give special treatment or ranking of a vendor based on those “treats” then it becomes a bit unethical.

Do what??? lol….

It is often the topic of much heated debates in business, law, and ethic classes all over the world.  Consumables are almost accepted (cookies, donuts, tacos, etc.) practice while others are not.  The difference is often in the value of the gift and not singled out to any one person who has the power and influence to make decisions on vendor usuage or a ranking thereof.

To illustrate this, in the CRS Report for Congress:  Lobbying Congress:  An Overview of Legal Provisions and Congressional Ethics Rules  of December 27, 2006, it states:

In attempts to limit what has been perceived to be potential undue or improper influence in governmental processes, restrictions have been adopted to limit the postemployment lobbying of certain high ranking officials of the federal government for a period of time after those officials leave government service (so-called “revolving door” laws). Similarly, to deal with the potential for, or perceptions of, undue or improper influences, both Houses of Congress have adopted internal rules regarding the acceptance of gifts and favors by Members, officers or employees of the House or Senate from private sources, particularly from registered lobbyists or agents of foreign principals. No gifts may be accepted by Members, officers or employees,except as permitted in the Rules of the respective chamber.”

Now.  Just how confusing does that sound???  Doesn’t it sound like they allowed themselves a little bit of breathing room for allowing exceptions in accordance with those “permitted in the Rules of the respective chamber”?

While I have seen an absolute definition that can be applied to all, I have yet to see companies try to lobby for a spot in other business to do business with them without providing some sort of gimick to draw brand name identity and recognition for their goods or services.  If they are not able to provide certain gifts, I am sure that there will always be that weasel who figures out a loop hole of some sort that makes their gift perfectly acceptable, even if it is just in the best interest of the company to be able to market themselves.  After all, free commerce is based on the appeals of being able to market freely their goods or services — right???

Where should the line be drawn?  Any ideas????

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