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The Courage and Integrity to Do the Right Thing

It seems each time we turn on the news or open a newspaper, we are hit with more news about the unethical behavior of some famous person or corporate giant.   In the last few weeks the reports have involved news that a large drug manufacturer knew of serious and deadly side effects of one of their top-selling drugs.  For the purpose of this post, it does not matter who the drug manufacturer is or the drug involved.

What is important is that this company knew many years ago that the complications of this drug were contributing to serious health problems and death in far too many cases.   Even more serious, and criminal in my mind, are the threats that medical professionals received from the drug company if they continued to speak out against their drug.  There are actually email documents on file of intimidation tactics used to silence the doctors, nurses, and medical practitioners who brought up the drug’s serious side effects in their patients.

If we look at another well-known case from the 1980s when Johnson and Johnson took a very grave and costly stance during a product catastrophe.  The manufacturer took an $80 million instant loss in order to pull their products from all shelves across the United States. Some of their Tylenol products had undergone tampering and had been laced with poison, leading to seven deaths in the Chicago area.

Had the company focused on the balance sheet instead of their mission statement, there very well could have been a very different and very dark outcome.  But Johnson and Johnson held to their guiding principles and the result is that today they are considered to be one of the most trusted and respected brands in the world.

Where has corporate courage and integrity gone? And how do we get it back?

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Judy W Bell

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