You know my two sons consistently tell me that I am too honest to be in business. My consistent reply back to them is nonsense. There is no such thing as being too honest in business. I take great pride in always standing in my truth and knowing that my word can be trusted. I enjoy the material gains from hard work like anyone else. I’m just not prepared to ever compromise my integrity and ethics to increase our corporate profitability or my own personal bottom line. It’s not worth it to me. Honesty is the best policy and the truth will set you free is what I live by and use to operate our companies.
To give you an example of the rewards of having integrity and ethics, on my return from traveling outside of Canada I always detail every purchase I make for customs, down to the penny with exchange. It drives my husband crazy, as he thinks no one but me declares everything. The last time we traveled we had purchased a significant amount of goods in Chicago and were well over our limit. We had to pay duty. My husband impatiently looks at the customs agent and says to her “look at all those people who probably don’t declare anything even though they are probably over their limit and here we are having to pay because my wife insists on declaring everything”. The customs agent was incredible. She looked at me and said, well everything looks in order and we like to reward honest people like you Mrs. Pagliaro. So she proceeded to significantly reduce the amount of duty we had to pay. I thanked her, I wanted to hug her, but thought that wouldn’t be appropriate and looked at my husband, smiled and said, ”see it always pays to be honest.”
So, I have been reading with great sadness the trials and convictions of huge corporate executives like Bernard Ebbers of World Comm and Enron’s Skilling and Lay. What in the world were they thinking when they starting cooking the books to inflate the value of their companies. Was it too assure they continued to make Big Money to support their Bigger Lifestyles which they thought entitled them to tell the Biggest Lies of all time to their stakeholders. Did they really think that they could get away with it forever, not get caught and ultimately go to jail. I don’t get it. I don’t get it. I don’t get it!
In this mornings’ Globe, Kenneth Lay is quoted as saying after hearing the conviction: “God’s got another plan right now”, I see! So Lay thought that it was God’s plan to rob hard working people of their lifestyle so that he could maintain his. In my opinion I don’t think so…it certainly isn’t the God I know and love!
And then Jeffrey Skilling – his quote after hearing the conviction: “I think we fought a good fight but some things work and some things don’t…really Mr. Skilling did your parents never teach you that liars eventually always get caught. Its always only a matter of time before the truth gets revealed and Bernard Ebbers was painted as such a philanthropist. Really, well anyone can play the roll of philanthropist when they are using money that isn’t theirs’ to do it with. It’s unbelievable the depth of deception it required to deceive hard working trusting people.
And then we can look at our own country and our Liberal government with the sponsorship scandal and now the gun registry scandal. What in the world do the leaders of corporations and governments think they are teaching our next generations. And how in the world can a government dare to think they can prosecute people for lies and deceptions when they are up their armpits in alligators doing it themselves.
I have heard many times over in my lifetime that “Money is the Root of all Evil”! And to that I say nonsense. It is a shifting of responsibility to the symptom and not the problem, which our society is always all too willing to do. It is the heart and soul of the person that dictates how they live. You always have a choice to make.
You can live your life with truth and honor or you can twist your integrity and ethics to suit your purpose when required or look the other way if staying in your truth results in not making or getting more money.
Ask yourself if push came to shove. What would you do if you were given the opportunity to receive large sums of money or even any extra money from a less than ethical opportunity? In my opinion there is only one choice and that is the choice of truth and honour everytime!
You can email me at email@example.com
Catherine Pagliaro CEO, C.N. Wylie Group Inc.