Sunday, May 27, 2007

THE RIGHT THING: WHEN LOYALTY LOOSENS ITS GRIP

From childhood it's hammered into us that we shouldn't be tattletales, ratting out friends for every minor infraction. As adults we continue to prize loyalty to friends and colleagues, but we increasingly feel obliged to right the wrongs around us, even if doing so sometimes tests that loyalty. The tricky part is deciding when enough is enough, when loyalty must be set aside because we've got to speak up.

Loyalty is a virtue, of course, but taken to an extreme it can become a fault, leading us to a code of silence even when truly bad behavior is at issue. In the rap community, for example, the "Stop Snitchin"' campaign asks those who see violent crimes not to cooperate with law enforcement, leaving crimes unsolved. [In a segment on 60 Minutes on April 22, Anderson Cooper reported on the Stop Snitchin' movement. You can view his report at http://www.cbsnews.com/sections/i_video/main500251.shtml?id=2715238n.] That's hardly a new trend, needless to say: For decades various groups or neighborhoods have embraced silence rather than give up one of their own.

In the workplace, employees rarely discover wrongdoing that rises to the level of violent crime, but they still face a tough dilemma when trying to decide when it's time to set aside loyalty to company and colleagues in order to expose wrongdoing.

A reader who works for a large, far-flung company writes me that she has been sending information about her company to a media contact who is covering a class-action suit against her firm. The suit was brought against a division on the West Coast that is accused of mistreating employees by failing to pay minimum wage. My reader works for a division on the East Coast that, by her own account, treats its employees very well.

Because she finds it reprehensible that any division might not be paying minimum wage, she wrote to the reporter to correct some erroneous information in one of his articles. She has continued to provide him with information.

"I am giving only information that is true," she writes. "It is not secret, although it would not be easy for him to find out otherwise."

My reader has grown increasingly uneasy about helping him, however, as he adopts what she considers "a more attack-like posture toward the company."

She now wonders how she can judge whether to help him, and where her obligation to her own company may lie.

In part my reader has already made an ethical call, and made it correctly: The first time she contacted the reporter, she had already decided -- whether or not she had articulated that decision -- that, if her company wasn't treating its employees fairly, this reporter should have whatever information she could give him without violating company secrets. She has a greater obligation to her company and its employees than to the reporter, but her personal ethics are an even greater obligation. Trying to ensure that employees on the West Coast are paid fairly does nothing to violate the company's trust in her.

Even if she's breaking company policy by e-mailing a reporter, there is no ethical breach so long as her motives are to help right a wrong rather than any personal gain.

Her decision to do the right thing was not a one-shot, "make it and live with it" call, however. Her concern about the reporter's "attack-like posture" is legitimate, and if she concludes that he's now seeking to damage the company rather than to end illegal practices, she's under no obligation to continue supplying him with information.

She need not apologize for her past cooperation with the reporter, which was done under the best of motives. Ideally her actions will work to the benefit of those employees on the West Coast who weren't making minimum wage. But she's free to stop cooperating with him if, in her judgment, his current work is not consistent with that motivation.

SOUND OFF: PIZZA, PIZZA, PIZZA

In an ad in which a Pizza Hut delivery boy delivers three pizzas for $5 each, a young man relishes what he thinks is the delivery boy's mistake. I asked readers if they thought it was OK to send the message that taking advantage of a low-paid delivery boy should be celebrated, whether that message was inappropriate or whether it was simply a funny ad without any particular message.

The unanimous verdict from my readers is that the ad is not that funny. Many thought, however, that it would be a mistake to make too much out of its message.

The most positive spin on it came from Phil Clutts of Harrisburg, N.C., who writes: "A good parent could seize the opportunity to say how cheating is a bad thing."

Like many other readers, Clutts also observes: "Older children and adults will just see the pizza-buyer as a simpleton."

Tilly Alldredge of Laguna Niguel, Calif., saw the ad and her blood boiled.

"I never order pizza," Alldredge writes, "but if I did, I'd go elsewhere."

Check out other opinions at http://jeffreyseglin.blogspot.com/2007/04/sound-off-slice-of-life.html or post your own by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below.

You can watch the commercial at Pizza Hut Commercial "Mistake" 3 for $5 with Erich Bergen.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business (Smith Kerr, 2006), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of http://www.jeffreyseglin.com, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@nytimes.com or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

Friday, May 25, 2007

SJC Upholds Archdiocese Closing of Church on Donated Land

Back in June 2005, I posed the following question to readers of The Right Thing column:

In 1946, according to an article in The Boston Globe, the Maffei family of Wellesley, Mass., signed over eight acres of land to the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston so a new church could be built. Last October, the archdiocese closed the church. The family said it would sue the archdiocese to get back the land, now valued at $1.44 million.

The Maffei lawyers argue that the family was not fully informed that the church could possibly be closed and was therefore misled. The lawyers have said that the suit would be dropped if the diocese decided to reopen the church.

Regardless of how the courts might decide the case, do you believe the diocese has a responsibility to return the land to the family now that the church is being closed? Or is it fair for the diocese to do what it pleases with the land since it was a gift?

Here's how I reported some reader responses in a column later that summer:

My readers are split on whether the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston should return land donated by the Maffei family in 1946, now that it has closed the church on the land.

"In principle that gift was donated to the church," writes Bert Hoogendam of Sarnia, Ontario, "and from there on that property belongs to the church with no strings attached."

Innocent Udenkwo of Lagos, Nigeria, agrees: "A gift is a gift," he writes. "It is voluntary, without conditions, cannot be returned."

On the other hand, Elizabeth Stern of Lake Forest, Calif., disagrees.

"If the church is not going to stay on the land that was given to them, even after all of these years," she writes, "then they should give back the money/land to the Maffei family." "If the donation was made for a church, and only for a church," writes Veronica Ross of Garden Grove, Calif., "then yes, the church should return the land."

Finally, David Whitemyer of Boston takes a philosophical approach.

"They donated it," he writes. "They gave it away. It's not theirs anymore. The world changes. Bummer."

Today, Friday, May 25, 2007, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts found in favor of the Archdiocese of Boston and said it was within its rights to sell the St. James the Great Church and its assets after it was closed. The case had previously been dismissed by a Suffolk Superior Court judge. The SJC ruling today upholds that judge's earlier ruling.

You can read two reports about today's ruling at Archdiocese can sell Wellesley church and SJC rules that archdiocese has authority to close church.

[Updated on Saturday, May 26, with link to SJC won't intervene in church closing, The Boston Globe's more detailed coverage of the ruling.]

Thursday, May 24, 2007

H-P Reaches Settlement with SEC

Yesterday, Hewlett-Packard reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission about the company's improper handling of the resignation of H-P's board member Thomas Perkins in May 2006. Perkins had quit when he learned about the methods H-P was using to uncover how leaks about the company were being made. In its filings with the SEC, H-P failed to mention the reasons Perkins had given for his departure.

Perkins later worked to get H-P to acknowledge why he had left. The situation led to the pretexting scandal erupting at H-P that led to Congressional hearings and the stepping down of former Board Chair Patricia Dunn.

No fine was levied in the SEC settled. H-P was not required to admit guilt. The company agreed not to exclude such information in the future.

The Associated Press report of the SEC sanctions is at HP settles charges over resignation.

You can read my earlier posts on the H-P pretexting scandal at The Right Thing: HEWLETT-PACKARD REDUX AND APPLE BACKDATING, The Right Thing: HEWLETT-PACKARD'S LEAKS, The Right Thing: MALDEN MILLS, HEWLETT PACKARD UPDATES, and The Right Thing: CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST H-P'S DUNN. And you can listen to an interview I did with NPR's "Here and Now" on the topic at Here and Now : Prosecutors Press Charges in Hewlett-Packard Case ....

There is still a federal criminal investigation into the H-P pretexting issue that continues.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

SOUND OFF: CASINOS TARGETING ASIAN CLIENTELE

Recent stories in the Associated Press (Casinos Winning Big by Betting on Asians) and The Boston Globe (Out of luck - The Boston Globe) have reported that casinos such as Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, both located in Connecticut, are aggressively marketing to the Asian community by offering inexpensive transportation, food and gambling coupons, along with traditional Asian gambling games. They also sponsor community activities and advertise in ethnic media. Experts in gambling addiction are concerned that targeting the Asian community so aggressively crosses a line and could be damaging the community.

Is it wrong for casinos to target one ethnic community so aggressively? Or is this simply smart marketing that seems to be working effectively? What do you think?

Send your thoughts to rightthing@nytimes.com or post them here by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below. Please include your name (first and last) and your hometown in your post. Readers' comments may appear in an upcoming column.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of "The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business" (The Right Thing Book from amazon.com ), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of http://www.jeffreyseglin.com, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@nytimes.com or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate, 500 Seventh Avenue, 8th floor, New York, NY 10018. Please remember to tell me who you are, where you're from, as well as where you read the column.

THE RIGHT THING: TRASH TALK

In the nine years I've been writing a column on ethics, I've all but given up trying to predict what topics will draw the most response from readers. A column questioning Vice President Cheney's claim that he has no financial ties to Halliburton failed to gain much traction (The Right Thing: When Executives Say They Don’t Have a Clue & THE RIGHT THING; With the Benefit of Hindsight, a Year-End Mea Culpa), while one about tapping into a neighbor's wireless Internet service continues to raise readers' hackles to this day (The Right Thing: SURFING ON BORROWED TIME).

But the column that drew by far the strongest response I've ever received was one that I wrote a couple of years ago about whether it was OK to let someone take recyclables from a bin set up at a Home Depot near Columbus, Ohio (The Right Thing: WHO'S STEALING MY TRASH? & The Right Thing: WHAT WAS I THINKING?). I argued that there was no harm and thus no foul from an ethical standpoint. Many readers chose to differ, arguing that the guy was robbing the community of funds used to pay for recycling efforts in the region.

So it is with some trepidation that I approach this week's topic: trash-- or, more precisely, trash disposal after a getaway to a family cabin.

Add to the mix that an adult son in his 40s would like me to settle a disagreement he has been having with his mother-in-law about the right thing to do, and you have the makings of a perfectly messy storm.

The situation is simple enough: Since no one wanted to share a four-hour car ride home to Mission Viejo, Calif., with a 13-gallon bag of trash, my reader's mother-in-law suggested that they dispose of the trash in the "public trash bin" outside the gas station in the little town where their family cabin is located.

My reader, Jeff E., told her that it would be ethically wrong to do so, unless permission were granted by the owner.

This led to a heated discussion of whether the bin was in fact public. Mother-in-law argued that people gassing up use it all the time to dispose of trash. Jeff E. sees a huge difference, however, between depositing an occasional fast-food wrapper and stuffing in all a household's accumulated trash from a long weekend.

"Therefore," he writes, "dumping one's household trash would essentially be stealing, since someone else is paying for the trash-bin service. Who's right?"

I'm not sure that dumping without permission equates to stealing, but otherwise Jeff E. is correct. It's wrong. If they want to dump their big bag of family trash in the gas-station trash bin, the right thing to do is to ask permission from the owner of the gas station.

Whether the trash bin is on private or public property should not make a difference in how they dispose of the trash. If there were a large trash barrel at the town center, they would be equally in the wrong to dump their household trash without first asking permission to make sure that they weren't violating any town ordinances, laws that very likely prohibit such dump-and-runs. Dumping laws vary from community to community and, no matter where you are, it's your obligation to make sure that you dispose of your trash in accordance with the law. Ignorance of the law, as they say, is no excuse.

In this particular battle, Jeff E. is right. And ultimately he did the right thing. After getting home, he got permission from the manager of the local town dump to dispose of the trash there. He attached the bag to his bicycle with bungee cords and rode the two miles to the dump to make his fully sanctioned drop-off.

Sometimes being right can be a lot of work.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

THE RIGHT THING: GETTING THE PICTURE

At a wedding reception in the Midwest, a slide show of the lives of the bride and the groom flashed on a screen, pleasing almost everyone. The one person not so happy was the professional photographer who was there to shoot the couple's wedding day.

"The very first picture to come up on the screen was a collage from my Web site of the couple's engagement pictures," she writes. "I couldn't believe it. I had not been asked for permission to use those images."

As the show ended the photographer watched as a guest placed a framed copy of a picture of the couple -- one of hers, again, scanned by the guest without permission -- onto the gift table, along with a copy of a CD containing the slide show.

The photographer has copyright information on her Web site, along with the statement that images are not intended for download. She even provides a link to the Web site of the United States Copyright Office. (She also links to copyright information on the Professional Photographers of America's website .) Still, she says, it's not uncommon for people to illegally copy her work.

Though incensed, the photographer decided not to do anything about it at the wedding. Why ruin the good will she had built with the wedding couple and their families?

As she was packing up, however, she noticed the photo-stealing guest's boyfriend sitting at the bar in the lobby. On her way out she approached him to ask for the guest's address, planning to contact the woman after the wedding. She figures that the photographs used would have cost about $225.

The boyfriend berated the photographer for making too big a deal, however, and other guests also began to yell at her. She asked how they would feel if someone interfered with the way they made a living, an argument that they refused to consider. She suggested that copying the pictures without permission and giving them as a gift was no different than taking a gift from Target and leaving without paying for it.

"I was the one being stolen from," she says, "yet I was the one being yelled at and I was the one who had to leave."

Obviously, the right thing would have been for the guest to have called to get permission to use the photos. No one should use copyrighted material of any kind without permission of the owner. Had she done so, the photographer says, she likely would have responded -- as she has in the past -- by letting her use the photos on the CD for free and charging her only $25 per print for any photos she wanted.

While the photographer was entirely justified in protecting her copyright, however, she wasn't wise to have approached the boyfriend at the bar. The boyfriend wasn't necessarily involved in the misuse, and the fact that alcohol was part of the mix should have tipped her off that it was not the best time to open this particular issue. The right thing would have been for her either to get the guest's name and address from the bride and groom after the wedding or to have asked the guest herself during the slide show.

As for the friend herself, given that the Web site was clearly marked as copyrighted material, there's only one right thing for her to do: Pay up.

Professional photographers make their livings by selling prints of their photographs and the rights to those shots. Using those photos without permission is wrong. Quality costs money and, with photography as with anything else, you get what you pay for. If professionally taken photographs are too expensive for your budget, that doesn't entitle you to steal them. Instead, turn to friends with good digital cameras and settle for whatever quality they can give you.

SOUND OFF: FAKING CREDENTIALS

Since I asked my readers what they would do if they discovered that one of their employees had listed on his resume a degree that he hadn't really earned, the real world has caught up with me: Marilee Jones, dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was revealed to have claimed three degrees that she had not actually earned. MIT let her go, despite the fact that, by all accounts, she was very good at her job.

Here's what my readers would have done in a similar situation: "Liars can't be trusted in business," writes Wendy Hagmaier of Long Beach, Calif. "You should get rid of the offender."

Joe Read of Anaheim, Calif., wouldn't be so draconian. If the company's policy makes such deception grounds for dismissal, he writes, he would fire the employee. Otherwise, however, he would negotiate a lower salary that better reflects his actual credentials and work with the employee to help him get something of "even more worth: his degree and a greater appreciation of integrity."

"Honesty is a two-way street," writes Leslie Ray of Portland, Ore., who brings an unusual personal experience to the topic.

For years, Ray reports, her husband's relationship with various employers would sour after a few weeks. Finally one employer told him that he had "misrepresented himself." He discovered that companies checking his credentials didn't know that he had changed his name, and for that reason were unable to corroborate his military or educational history -- a situation that he quickly remedied.

Check out other opinions at SOUND OFF: FALSE CREDENTIALS, or post your own by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of "The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business" (The Right Thing book from amazon.com) is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of http://www.jeffreyseglin.com, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@nytimes.com or to "The Right Thing," New York Times Syndicate, 609 Greenwich St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10014-3610.

Reporters Avoiding Perceptions of Conflict

Last week, I spoke with Eric Deggans, the media critic for the St. Petersburg Times, about the departure of Tampa Tribune reporter Michael Fechter to go to work for Steve Emerson, the "anti-terrorism crusader" he has been covering for many years.

As Deggans notes in his op-ed piece in today's paper, When reporters switch sides, Fechter was the "first Tampa Bay area reporter to allege former University of South Florida professor Sami Al-Arian had criminal links to the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad." The move raises questions among Islamic groups whether Fechter's work had an anti-Islamic bias.

The larger question Deggans and I talked about was the propriety of a reporter going to work directly from his job as a reporter to work for a figure he covered so prominently. The Tampa Tribune found the move troubling enough to ask Emerson to not delay his departure once he announced he was taking the job. (In Reporter's departure 'controversial', Tampa Tribune reporter Meg Laughlin quotes Janet Coats, the paper's executive editor: "Steven Emerson is controversial. Michael Fechter is controversial. That Michael is going to work for Steven is controversial. To put separation between them and the paper, we asked Michael to leave today, rather than wait.")

I told Eric that the "real problem is the perception whether or not all along you were jockeying for the position. ...It's not just that you have to be careful not to do something. It's the perception that you're fighting."

We continued to discuss whether news outlets should encourage departing reporters to avoid working with or for people they cover for at least a year, although we talked about how flawed that system seems to be working with former U.S. Congressman who find loopholes around such restrictions on lobbying.

But I also noted that reporters may already be fighting an uphill battle when it comes to public perception. Many in the general public assume the worst about journalists already. I told Eric about a Gallup poll on public perception of the most honest professions that came out just as I was beginning a new career as a college professor at Emerson College in 1999. I continued at the time to write a monthly version of my Right Thing ethics column for the Sunday New York Times Money & Business section. As my wife was double-parked outside my Emerson office building so I could unload some boxes, NPR reported that among the top 10 respected professions in the Gallup poll was college professors. Before I could feel too glib, it went on to report that among the bottom 10 was online journalists. Talk about a disconnect.

I was the same person regardless of whether I was in the classroom or on the pages or website of a newspaper, but apparently the public's perception of me changed depending on what they thought I did for a living. I wrote a column about it (The Right Thing: TELLING THE TRUTH, OR AT LEAST MOST OF IT) and wondered out loud to my wife how I'd introduce myself at cocktail parties if someone asked me what I did for a living. After pointing out that we didn't go to all that many cocktail parties, she wisely pointed out that the best course was full disclosure, but it didn't change the fact that the public's perception of journalists is not all that high, whether that perception is warranted or not.

Cases like Fechter's as Eric points out in his op-ed piece today raise some challenging questions for journalists. Sadly, they also give credence to what a large portion of the public believes about the profession and force the rest of us to examine how we would respond were we in Fechter's shoes.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

SOUND OFF: STARING DOWN EVIL

After the tragedy of the Virginia Tech shootings, NBC was faced with a difficult decision. It had received a package from the killer that included video clips of him talking into the camera about the vicious rampage upon which he was about to embark, one which resulted in the deaths of 32 people. After notifying the FBI and turning over copies of the material, NBC decided to air portions of the video. Some felt that the footage was newsworthy and appropriate for airing. Others took NBC to task for giving over airtime to the killer.

If faced with the same situation, what would you do? Air the video? Withhold the information from the public? Post the information only on the NBC News Web site, so that viewers could choose whether or not to view it? Or something else?

Send your thoughts to rightthing@nytimes.com or post them here by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" below. Please include your name and your hometown. Readers' comments may appear in an upcoming column.

Jeffrey L. Seglin, author of "The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today's Business" (The Right Thing Book from amazon.com), is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of http://www.jeffreyseglin.com, a Web log focused on ethical issues.

Do you have ethical questions that you need answered? Send them to rightthing@nytimes.com or to "The Right Thing," The New York Times Syndicate , 609 Greenwich St., 6th floor, New York, N.Y. 10014-3610.

THE RIGHT THING: TAKE MY MONEY, PLEASE

Like many of her neighbors in Laguna Woods, Calif., Karen M. enjoys buying stuff. Easy enough.

What's not so easy is what happens when something goes wrong with an order and Karen wants to make things right. I'm not talking about when a company owes Karen money. Her problem is the opposite: On several occasions Karen has not been charged for an order received and has found it near impossible to pay up.

How far should she have to go in trying to correct a company's mistake in her favor?

Take the bathing suit Karen ordered online. When the suit didn't arrive, she called and, after navigating her way through the telephone menu, finally reached an operator. The operator told her that the suit was out of stock, so the company would credit her credit card. Two days later, however, Karen received the suit. She called, navigated the telephone menu again, told the operator she had gotten the suit and asked to be rebilled.

When her credit-card statement arrived, the credit was shown, but not the rebilling. Karen called again, marched through the telephone menu again and spoke to yet another operator. She still hasn't been charged.

Or take the pharmacy where she gets her prescriptions. After she orders a prescription refill online, the pharmacy sends her an e-mail when it's ready and then charges her credit card. But recently, after waiting seven days and receiving no e-mail, she called the pharmacy, navigated its menu and spoke to an operator. She ended up with a double prescription for which she was never charged. She called, but still hasn't been charged.

Or how about when she bought gift wrap that her grandson was selling to raise money for his school? She ordered two rolls. The company sent her three. She e-mailed the company saying that she'd send back the extra roll if it would pay shipping, but was told to keep the extra roll. The next day she received two more rolls. That makes three rolls, so far, for none of which she has been charged.

Karen is an honest woman who, quite rightly, believes that she should pay for the stuff she buys. Nevertheless, getting these companies to charge her has turned into a part-time job.

"If I call once to advise the company that they have made a mistake in my favor," she asks, "is that one call enough? Or do I have to keep making calls, as long as it takes, until they get it right?"

The right thing for Karen to do is exactly what she had been doing: trying to correct the mistake by contacting the companies to tell them of their errors. All the same, she's not obligated to spend hours on the telephone begging companies to take the money she owes them. One call is sufficient for that purpose and, if I were her, that's where I'd leave things.

She could go a step further, however, by placing a check in the mail, along with a copy of the packing slip and an explanatory note, leaving the company to figure out how to clean up its billing mess. This might result in Karen having to deal with uncashed checks when balancing her checkbook, of course, but it would save her from treacherous telephone menus and allow her to rest easy knowing that she had gone out of her way to do what was right, even when these companies couldn't figure out what they were doing wrong.

Friday, May 04, 2007

HYPERTEXT ADS WITHIN ONLINE EDIT CAUSE CONFUSION

In a post on his blog, Paul Conley takes Ziff Davis to task for allowing the use of Intellitxt inside of its online editorial stories. (See Ziff Davis crosses the ethics line again.) This allows users to click on hypertext that takes them directly to advertisements that are associated with the hypertext-ed words.

Forbes.com tried a similar experiment in 2004 but stopped it after its editors complained (See Forbes.com Nixes Ad Links in Editorial.)

Conley writes that was Ziff Davis is doing goes against ASBPE ethics guidelines. (See American Society of Business Publication Editors Code of Preferred ...)

Conley's post touched off a discussion that includes some in the industry agreeing with him and some disagreeing. The dust-up is detailed in a piece released yesterday by Folio: magazine's Alert newsletter. (See Ziff Davis Caught in Bloggers' Crosshairs.) I'm cited in the piece as stating, among other things, that the practice is bound to cause confusion.

The official statement of ASBPE from its president, Roy Harris, is included at the end of the Folio: article.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

When Is Enough Enough?

In a story on ABCNews.com today (Tenet Lessons, Less Pay, More Frustration: Why It's the Choice for Some), Laura Marquez writes about for CIA Director George Tenet's decision to leave his post and asks the question:

"So what causes someone who dedicates his life to public service to sever those ties, and as in Tenet's case, become an outspoken critic of the government he once served? Tenet is certainly not the first public servant to become disillusioned with his job."

Marquez cites me in the article and happened to call a few days after I'd returned from a seminar at The Arden Institute in Lenox, Massachusetts (http://www.shakespeare.org/arden/participating.php). As part of a seminar called "Leadership in a Time of Crisis" (http://www.shakespeare.org/arden/crisis.php), we read the resignation of former diplomat John Brady Kiesling (John Brady Kiesling Home) who, after serving 20 years with the State Department, resigned in a letter that was widely circulated on the Internet after he wrote it to Colin Powell in 2003, which was the first time I had seen the letter.

In part Kiesling writes: "Until this Administration, it had been possible to believe that by upholding the policies of my President I was also upholding the interests of the American people and the world. I believe it no longer."

You can find Kiesling's resignation letter at John Brady Kiesling Home.

Information on the Arden Seminars is at http://www.shakespeare.org/arden/crisis.php.

And Marquez's article on ABCNews.com is at Tenet Lessons, Less Pay, More Frustration: Why It's the Choice for Some.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Fewer Women in the Boardroom

Judy Dobryzynski has an op-ed piece in today's Boston Globe (Women in the boardroom) that gives a Boston spin on the Catalyst study that shows that the number of women in top positions in Fortune 500 companies has shrunk since the last census was taken as has the number of companies that have one woman on their corporate board.

Dobrzynski wrote similar pieces with local angles for the Los Angeles Times (Return of the 'glass ceiling') and the Chicago Tribune (Female CEOs still rare sight).

Her commentary is based on recent census data mined by Catalyst. A report on that data can be found at Catalyst Releases 2006 Census of Women in Fortune 500 Corporate Officer and Board Positions.

I first reported on her pieces in the blog and included a related Right Thing column I'd written in March 2002 at The Right Thing: How to Get a Company's Attention on Women's Pay.

Should I call a colleague on her tardiness?

How patient should you be when the person who asked for a meeting with you is late? L.L. works as a professional in a field that re...