Produce stand ethics
Having lived in Boston for the previous four years and awakening one morning to find nothing but a pile of glass where my car once was, I was initially surprised that many of the produce stands in the Annapolis Valley would operate on the honor system.
There would be produce, a scale, and a box or can for money. Sometimes the money containers would be attached to the stand, but often you could have walked off with the money with little effort. Though I am sure robbery happened, I never heard about it.
Even today in our fairly rural area, I know a fair number of spots where people could make off with products that aren't locked down yet I don't think it is huge problem with those businesses that are still in areas like ours where most of the people are trustworthy.
Still I doubt that many places remain like the small village of Tay Creek, north of Fredericton, New Brunswick in Canada where our farm was for 17 years. I can't ever remember taking the key out of our pickup truck, and we never had a lock on the house until we moved. We just didn't need it.
Today I wrote a post on my Applepeels blog about the unfolding scandal at Apple. It occurred to me that whether intentionally or not Steve Jobs has created a pressure cooker environment where resources are tight and the expectation is that there will be no excuses.
It creates something of a moral wasteland where people tend to look out for themselves and just be thankful that they have survived another year. It is something like a fruit stand where there is a free for all.
You hear lots about what a creative place Apple is, but I doubt you will ever hear anything about how ethical Apple is. The simple reason is that Apple is a company which has pretty well institutionalized the idea that the ends justify the means. If there are a few employee bodies scattered along the way, what does it matter as long as the end result is that another great product makes it out the door to help grow Steve's reputation?
I don't pretend to know whether that type of environment has made Apple products better or worse. I do know that it has created a shortage of ex-employees who worked at Apple and have wonderful things to say about the company. They are few and far between.
I worked at Apple nearly twenty years, and I never saw any ethics training in my career there. I heard a Vice President say you should make sure you didn't save any of your email. I know lots of employees who lost their jobs just because some higher up didn't like them or they were too old or just did not suck up to the right person. I guess that has become corporate culture in America.
Now I am sure there are plenty of companies just as bad or worse than Apple. The challenge is that Apple lives in a glass bowl so everyone has an opinion about life on the inside of the great Apple mother ship.
It was with great interest that I found out that one of the first things that I had to do as a Realtor® was to not only attend a class on ethics but also to take an online course and pass a test on the Realtor® Code of Ethics.
While having a code of ethics certainly is not a perfect solution to bad behavior, it is certainly better than the free wheeling world of technology of which Apple is a part. Of course Realtors® in most states live with the knowledge that consumers can easily complain about their behavior with just a few mouse clicks. I am sure knowing the NC Real Estate Commission is watching is a good thing for many people who might stray from the straight and narrow.
Having that code of ethics behind you, makes it a little easier to stand tall for what you believe, but I think it only really reinforces what you have grown up with from your youth.
As a Boy Scout and a graduate of McCallie, a former military school in Chattanooga, Tenn, I am well aware of the Boy Scout Oath and the core beliefs of McCallie which can be summed up as Honor, Truth, and Duty. My college, Harvard, also had the simple Latin word of Veritas as a motto. I am proud of my background. It certainly helped me to survive Apple with my moral authority in tact. I expect my moral compass to serve me well in my new career as a real estate agent.
I am not surprised to see former Apple executives now turning on each other. Truth wasn't exactly a core Apple belief. I'm glad to be a Realtor® in a wonderful rural area which is full of people who value hearing the truth on a regular basis.
It might do the Apple executives some good to take lessons from the fruit stand vendors of Nova Scotia. If you build your business on trusting your people instead of creating a climate of fear, you might have an organization that does the right thing by default.
The picture at the top of the post was taken in Cape Carteret, NC. Our friends at Bucks Corner Farm have a problem. Their strawberries are ripening faster than people can come to pick them. I wish I had the time to take a truckload back to the mountains where people are going to miss out on local strawberries this year.
Now that we have enjoyed a few quarts of strawberries, I can starting worrying about who gets the first tomato sandwich. It is certainly better than pointing fingers over options backdating.
Sometimes good things come to he who waits patiently. Once in a while you even see some justice on the horizon even at places like Apple.