Sunday, January 06, 2008

SOUND OFF: THE WHOLE TRUTH

Readers weighed in as to whether the board of Whole Foods Market was right to prohibit its executives and directors from posting comments about the company or its competitors to any discussion forums except ones sponsored by Whole Foods. The decision came after the company's chief executive, John Mackey, was revealed to have been making anonymous posts touting the strengths of his own company and the weaknesses of its competitors on an Internet discussion forum.

"Anonymous touts of a commercial venture by an insider are reprehensible," writes H. Watkins Ellerson of Hadensville, Va.

Mike Padore of Irvine, Calif., agrees, but believes that no restrictions should be placed on blog postings by anyone, so long as the posters' names and company affiliations are clearly stated.

Walter Donlyuk of Orange County, Calif., writes that anonymous postings are no surprise from "execs who seem to have no ethics or principles when it comes to making money."

Jan Bohren of Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., believes that all companies should ban such activities by their executives.

"Of course it was wrong for Mackey -- or any other key executive -- to anonymously participate in internal forums," Bohren writes.

Check out other opinions at SOUND OFF: `I WAS IN A GREAT STORE THE OTHER DAY ... ' , 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 and The Good, the Bad, and Your Business: Choosing Right When Ethical Dilemmas Pull You Apart, is an associate professor at Emerson College in Boston, where he teaches writing and ethics. He is also the administrator of The Right Thing, 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.

c.2008 The New York Times Syndicate (Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate)

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