Is this the end of the Internet? By Mary Mershein
Companies are in business to make money.
Nowhere in financial records is there a place for ethics, morality, law abiding or decency. Income statements recognize only financial gains and losses. As a result, corporations are encouraged to maximize profits with actions that may not always be in the best interests of the public.
This may include dumping pollution in the environment (Feb 2011 Chevron fined $8 billion for damage to the Amazon), hiring labor at slave wages in poor countries (July 2011 Nike employees in Taiwan earn 50 cents an hour) or treating staff so ruthlessly they want to commit suicide. (Jan 2012 Foxconn employees in China)
Leaders of such companies include the richest people on earth who are frequently admired and respected despite these seemingly immoral transgressions. In their situation, the end justifies the means. So why do leadership courses continue to preach ethical behavior? Why would companies, bent on profit, want ethical leaders?
The answer is sustainability. History proves over and over that a single minded pursuit of profit eventually leads to downfall.
Google’s “Don’t be Evil” philosophy was created in 2004. It was challenged when it went up against China’s censorship policies. When Google threatened to leave China in 2009 rather than comply with China’s censorship demands, Google’s share price fell by 8%.
Google backed down and complied with China’s demands. Later in 2009 Google dropped its “Don’t be Evil” motto.
In 2011 Google faced censorship demands by India but this time there were no threats by Google to leave the country and no drop in share price. Now, in January 2012 South Korea is considering adding its own censorship demands. What country is next? In the pursuit of profit how far will Google go? When does this result in a censored internet?
Will a censored internet even be viable?
Ironically the end of an open internet would mean the end of Google.
What kind of decisions does your company make?
What kind of decisions do you make?
Mary Mershein is a Chartered Accountant with a master’s degree in management who believes common sense is our greatest financial analysis. Additional common sense can be found at www.moosemoney.wordpress.com.