Are We Desensitized to Ethical Business?Recently I read about a plant that is commonly known as the “sensitive plant”. The scientific name for the plant is Mimosa piduca. When the plant experiences human touch it actually quivers and closes its leaves. You can Google the plant name and watch amazing videos of this strange phenomenon. Another strange reaction of this plant is that the more often it is touched, the more desensitized the plant becomes to human touch. In other words, the more often it is touched, the less responsive the plant is to human touch, and the less likely it is to “blush.” Have our business ethics become the same? As a nation, have we become so desensitized to corruption and wrongdoing that we can no longer “blush” and pull away from unethical business practices and people who are doing business outside of integrity? Many times actions that would have caused upheaval in the past have now become mainstream. If you do something wrong and no one sees it, is it still wrong? The answer is an astounding, “YES.” Hopefully the recent financial recession has given us reason to pause and consider what years of corruption and lack of oversight have done to our country and our financial system. In March and April 2010, a nonpartisan center surveyed Americans and found that almost 80% of Americans do NOT trust Washington, nor do they have faith that our elected officials can solve the nation’s ills. Have leaders in Washington become so desensitized to the laws they are charged with regulating that the lines between right and wrong are now blurred? Are there even identifiable lines now? When slack regulatory oversight allows unethical and illegal business practices to become mainstream it is far too easy for Ponzi schemes, insider trading, and creative investment packages to become the norm. Most of the recent fraud schemes were reported by insiders and bystanders months and even years before the “walls came tumbling down.” If our regulatory agencies are not responsive to correcting the abuse, it stands to reason that honest people may be less hesitant to become involved. Have our leaders and have WE become like the Sensitive Plant? Can we no longer “blush?” Are we no longer responsive to the distinct difference between right and wrong, legal and illegal, ethical and unethical? It truly is everyone’s duty to ensure that the financial ecosystem stays in balance. If we don’t stand for something, we will fall for anything.
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