“an ethical company will in the short run and in the long term be a better institution. . . . Ethical behavior is simply good business.”
You can create a Company Code of Conduct and have all your employees sign it. Does not mean that your company is ethical. You can also create a Code of Ethics, this also does not mean your company is an ethical one.
Ethics begin at a corporations mid-level management team. If your management team has been corrupted and pressured to pressure the “system”, this is when ethics challenges will begin to impact the future of your organization.
Some industries don’t have honest ethical leadership at the top of the organization. Remember the mortgage fraud from Countrywide Mortgage and the CEO? What about Enron? Or Toyota for hiding information related to faulty gas pedals? Greedy CEOs and Executives may make it hard for managers to follow “a good conscience”. The future of any organization and industry is not in the appearance of an ethical corporate culture, but in the philosophy and acceptance of a ethical corporate culture. Ethics catch up with you (unless you bailout before they have been discovered, as is the case with SuperMedia’s corporate fraud to investors and executive compensation fraud.)
Having been an employee of an organization that was ethical, GTE/Verizon Directories, and then seeing the company move the opposite direction from ethics as IdearcMedia/SuperMedia, I can tell you that it is a relief to no longer be associated with a business that has a horrible reputation.
Idearc/SuperMedia has by far the worst reputation on JobVent, RipOffReport.com, ComplaintsBoard.com, BBB.org (see below), and countless other websites. Customer service is a cost center. Product fulfillment is outsourced for margins. Talented and ethical consultants are being fired for activities and not forcing clients into products that are overpriced and fail to meet expectations. The actions from the leadership team demonstrate the worst in corporate ethics. An unethical leadership team rewards itself with bonuses, raises, and short and longterm stock rewards not based on results, earnings, or growth, but based on the opportunity for a buyout or change in control for what is a dying business model.
So with all the new pressure from Scott Klein as CEO from SuperMedia and coercion to sell clients on misguided and unachievable results from a dying product that has prices higher than ever and competition like never before do to SuperMedia in just a few short years?
Well, SuperMedia’s BBB.org rating was revoked for the company nationwide due to the sales fraud and lack of results in October of 2009!
hey…. that was the month that I left the company!
Regarding cancelling advertising contracts SuperMedia’s Terms and Conditions states the following:
“SECTION 28 REVISIONS AND CANCELLATIONS – If I wish to revise or cancel my advertising in the issue(s) specified on the cover section of this Application, I must do so by giving written notice to Publisher at Idearc Media Corp., P.O. Box 610609, D/FW Airport, TX 75261 or by fax to (972) 453-6764 no later than 14 days from the Date of the Application or by the applicable close date, whichever is earlier. For subsequent issues,I must give written notice of revisions or cancellation to Publisher at the address or fax number set forth in this Section 28 by the close date for such issues, which date may be obtained by calling Publisher’s Customer Service Office at (800) 555-4833.
“SECTION 29 AUTOMATIC RENEWAL – If Publisher does not receive written notice of cancellation in accordance with Section 28 and Publisher elects to publish my advertising in subsequent issues of the Directory,I agree to pay Publisher as provided in Section 25 and that the then current version of the terms and conditions will apply to such advertising. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Publisher will have no obligation to automatically renew my advertising or to notify me that my advertising will not be renewed. Limited inventory advertising will not be automatically renewed and requires a new Application and applicable addendum.”
If you choose to cancel your contract, the procedures above must be followed.
It might be a good idea to include this in the SuperMedia Perfect Sales Pitch?
Instead of going back to the drawing board to recreate a business model that leverages the best local small business advertising sales team and discovering a means of evolving the organization into a lower margin service business model, they chose to permit a culture of sleezy sales.
I remember listening to a discussion by my executive team at Idearc regarding the collapse of Polaroid. They discussed the fact that consumers no longer wanted instant Polaroid pictures and rather preferred the quality of digital pictures that required a trip to a photo shop. Even today instant cameras are losing market share to cell phones with cameras. Technology evolves, so do industries. Your cheese gets moved, you evolve and go find new cheese or move with it. All the while you maintain ethics and retain ethical employees and loyal customers. Do you practice what you preach? Sounds more like Washington and less like Main Street if you ask me. Cheating on your wife while asking to be re-elected. Paying for high dollar hookers on the company petty cash account? Bankers being rewarded for fraud and bankrupting companies and investors.
The company I spend over 9 years at chose not to evolve. In 2000, I joined Verizon Yellow Pages 2 months out of high school at the Texas Call Center (TCC) in Irving Texas. I won a my first Prestige Award and was on my way to earning a second (would have been the first to achieve such a feat) when I was promoted to local sales at 4500 Fuller Drive in Irving Tx. I began my career with Janet Bro and Scott Laver. I was the guy who could not be promoted to an outside sales position because I was too young to be insured to drive a company car. I won 3 President’s Awards as an ethical sales consultant for Verizon/Idearc over the course of my 9 year career. I was the only person to accomplish this in Texas Sales. In 2006 Kathy Harless changed the tune of the company. Employees feared change. I embraced change. The next big change was Scott Klein. After just a few months at the helm of the company, it was quickly discovered by employees that the company had taken many steps back and none forward.
The failure of SuperMedia begins with new crony corporate leadership and horrible ethics combined with a high pressure sales environment among a rapidly declining industry.
What this discussion of rewards and objectives ultimately points to is the critical role that supervisors play in determining the ethical character of a company. In a survey of more than 300 managers by the National Institute of Business Management, the behavior of an employee’s superiors was ranked as the second most important factor in influencing decision making. This was surpassed only by a personal code, and outstripped the behavior of one’s peers, formal company policy and the ethical climate in the industry.
As a result, another major challenge in institutionalizing ethics in a business is to be particularly sensitive to the danger of supervisors exerting the wrong kind of pressure. TI’s Skooglund observes that “If you’re going to have the kind of pressure that’ll make decent people go wrong, you’ll find it in the employee-supervisor relationship.” Relating this issue directly to other major challenges just mentioned, Skooglund notes that “there are two ways that the employee-supervisor relationship can really go wrong: 1) if you set goals that realistically cannot be met, and 2) if you have an environment where the employee is made to feel that failure is totally unacceptable.” When the cost of failure is too high, people feel enormous pressure to compromise both their own values and the company’s stated standards. And for all practical purposes, it’s an employee’s supervisor who determines the cost of failure.
The matter of rewards, however, brings us full circle and back to the issue of “cheating for the company” which opened this article. After all, what employees are rewarded for is one of the main factors that determines how strong the temptation will be for them to bend or break the rules–or even the law. The more that employees are rewarded simply for meeting quarterly objectives, the stronger that temptation will be. “Employees learn very quickly what they really get stroked for,” points out TI’s Skooglund, “and if the rewards come solely from shipping product or making financial forecasts, then that’s the drumbeat they’re going to march to. And that’s a tough problem for any company’s ethics.”
However, the greatest ethical danger occurs when raises, bonuses and promotions depend on unrealistic objectives. As Gary Edwards of the Ethics Resource Center explains, “When objectives are set improperly–too aggressively or without respect for a particular unit’s inability to meet a goal that may be reasonable for the corporation overall–all kinds of unethical conduct can be generated.” Another major challenge in incorporating ethical values into an organization, then, is to set objectives which stretch employees to the full extent of their capacities but do not push them to the point where they’ll be tempted to meet them by wrongdoing.
I have said before that to next logical step for SuperMedia was for sales to become local search engine marketing consultants. Scott Klein could not have done a better job of accomplishing the opposite. Corporate decisions that are based on the SPMD Stock Price and not a focus on training, fulfillment, and return on investments to clients. Instead of the stock being a good purchase longterm, the company changes name, declares bankruptcy, lies about fraud, and uses sales fraud and collections as a means of pumping up the value only for executives to jump off a sinking ship. Sounds like a great business plan if you are Bernie Madoff.
Meanwhile, if you are a media rep and looking for the next logical step to feeding your family, earning a living that you can be proud of, and working with the best small business owners in Dallas Fort Worth give me a call. I am working with a few investors on a creating a business model that rewards consultants for learning, then providing holistic search engine marketing services to small businesses. You won’t be able to take the time to make 80 appointments in a day. You don’t have to log fake activities to keep your job. It begins with working for yourself and not corporate America. It begins with transparency for the client. It begins with ethics.
Just to give you a hint:
Aside from Local SEO services that require years of study, there is a component to local search engine marketing that does not take brains. It is an effort. Something very basic, but is typically returned in value to the client in less than a few weeks.
This is a local search:
When people search Google for local information, you can help small businesses across America show up in Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) . I am offering you the opportunity to open up an office in your area providing these services. You will have a fulfillment department, access to a talented web development team, and get the best local SEO advice from the Dallas SEO Guru.
Webformance is working hard to provide the best value in Internet marketing for local Dallas area businesses. Who does the same in your area? Will you?
Imagine charging a client $300.00 one time and it impacting his or her business for years! Imagine being paid a 30-50% commission on these “sales” but never having to worry about the value for the client? Imagine a clean conscience.