Sunday, December 23, 2007

THE RIGHT THING: THE BEST OF YEARS, THE WORST OF YEARS

Once again it's time to look back at egregious ethical lapses of the past year.

In keeping with my belief that as much can be learned from those who do the right thing as from those who don't, I continue with my tradition of offering positive alternatives to the misguided or wayward actions of many in the news.

SHOWING WHOLE LEADERSHIP

Apparently John Mackey, chief executive of Whole Foods Market, felt that his company wasn't
getting enough praise for its healthy foods and shiny stores. He made anonymous Internet posts touting the strength of his own company and besmirching its competitors. He found himself and his company facing an informal inquiry by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

On the other hand Jeffrey Immelt, the chief executive of General Electric, finds himself basking in a warm glow of positive response after committing his company to an "ecomagination" campaign to develop more environmentally friendly products. The company expects to have sold $14 billion such products by the end of 2007.

And, as reported in The Wall Street Journal, "it reduced its own greenhouse-gas emissions by 4 percent between 2004 and 2006, even as revenue grew 21 percent."

Immelt is not without detractors who believe his campaign to be more of an attempt to keep regulators at bay than a sign of real, altruistic commitment to the environment. Even if that's true, so what? His company and the environment still benefit.

A DOG IN THE FIGHT

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick received a 23-month prison sentence for financing and running Bad News Kennels, an illegal dog-fighting operation. At the sentencing United States District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson told him, "I think you need to apologize once again to the millions of people who look up to you." (See Vick Receives 23 Months and a Lecture - New York Times.)

The sports world is not without good role models. Consider Rita Benson LeBlanc, executive vice president of the New Orleans Saints. When her own neighborhood was preparing for Hurricane Katrina to hit, LeBlanc marshaled a successful evacuation for all Saints players, coaches, personnel and their families.

"Many citizens thought only of themselves and moved on," William Legier, founder of a Gulf Coast accounting firm, told Condé Nast Portfolio Magazine magazine. "Not Rita." (See Rita LeBlanc Benson Saints - Executive Articles - Portfolio.com.)

LeBlanc is the granddaughter of Saints owner Tom Benson, not known for his positive relationships with the New Orleans community. LeBlanc takes a decidedly different approach.

"We're trying to do everything we can to bring prosperity and economic investment to New Orleans," she told Portfolio.

Commitment to her personal, business and local communities, when it would have been simpler to focus solely on herself, is not a bad way to set a good example.

ENLIGHTED CELEBRITIES WHO GIVE BACK

After she finally decided not to fight her jail term for driving with a suspended license, Paris Hilton, the celebrity known for ....well, who knows? ... declared that she was "learning and growing" from the experience. Upon her release there was talk that her childish devotion to celebrity might give way to a more adult commitment to serious humanitarian issues. We wait with anticipation.

Other celebrities, people who enjoy far less media fanfare than Hilton does, have been devoting themselves to humanitarian efforts for years. Take actor Gary Sinise: Since 2004 his not-for-profit Operation Iraqi Children, co-founded with author Laura Hillenbrand, has been providing school-supply kits, nearly 200,000 of them, to Iraqi children. The kits, along with books, shoes, blankets, backpacks, sports equipment and toys, are distributed by American troops.

The effort has recently expanded into Afghanistan and Djibouti. OIC reports that 100 percent of donations go either to providing supplies for children or to covering shipping costs. For more information, visit www.operationiraqichildren.org.

c.2007 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mr. Seglin:

Regarding Rita Benson LeBlanc as a good role model for helping to evacuate Saints players, coaches, personnel and their families, I think she could have made better use of her resources. There were so many people who were literally trapped by the hurricane because they had no vehicles or no money for bus or plane fair. There were the elderly who needed special accommodations for their evacuation such as medical equipment that had to be moved with them. All of the people who had to leave pets behind would have appreciated help moving their pets with them. The list is endless of the people who might have benefited from her evacuation generosity.

I'm pretty sure that the people she helped escape New Orleans had the financial resources to do it on their own. It's a clear case of those who "have it" helping their own.

Sorry, but I'm underwhelmed.

Gabrielle T. Soldan
Columbus, Ohio

Can reader turn lost vacation into charitable deduction?

The reports of the effects of Hurricane Maria hitting Puerto Rico were devastating. Electricity lost. Homes destroyed and streets flo...