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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

DO WE REALLY NEED BUSINESS ETHICS?

Blog in Spanish
I believe that good ethics make good business sense. Nowadays, customers pay more attention than ever to the ethical behavior of companies. Therefore, companies must have a code of ethics to define and maintain standards of acceptable behavior. In order for a company to achieve this, I would recommend following these three basic duties. First, any company should treat its employees well. For example, a company should be sensible to the needs of its employees by paying them fare wages and providing health insurance to the worker and his/her family. A company should also keep its promises. Second, companies and employees working for the company should be honest in all dealings. For example, companies should not take advantage of customers by overcharging for products; especially those products that are most necessary. When I was younger, I worked in a big bookstore as a clerk. One day a customer came to us to buy one of the textbooks she needed for school. When I told her the price, she said she could not afford it. But she really needed the book. I was aware she could get the same book at a lower price from one of our competitors. All of a sudden, I was faced with an ethical dilemma. What should I do? Should I tell her about the competitor or let her go without getting what she needed? I actually decide to tell her about the competitor’s price and she was indeed very thankful. Third, I believe all companies (and governments) have the duty to be socially responsible. The Kyoto global warming pact went into force recently. Many nations of the world have signed an agreement to systematically reduce pollution levels released to the atmosphere. This is a big step to protect our planet. Nevertheless, the pact is doomed to fail since countries like the United States (the world's largest emitter of carbon dioxide) and China did not sign it. These two countries have refused to ratify the agreement, saying it would harm their economy. Are we forgetting that our planet is more important than any corporate profit? Are we not smart enough to think that if we destroy our planet money will be useless? Ethics and common sense are not always interrelated. Thus, it is our responsibility to do our part to implement business ethics in a society that has forgotten its more important core values; honesty, and a clear responsibility to future generations.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Melting Pot

Blog in Spanish
America has long been known as a melting pot of cultures and ideologies. But, does this still work today? What does it mean to be an American? And who should be considered an American? The dictionary defines the noun American as “a person born in the United Sates.” By that definition alone I am not an American. Nevertheless, after living three years in this country I find that the definition the dictionary provides is not quite accurate. Actually, if I had to declare my nationality at this point of my life, I would realize it to be more difficult than many people may think. I was born in Europe, found love in America, married in Japan, and saw my two children come to the world under the shadow of a Star-Spangled Banner. To me America means opportunity, romantic walks under a starred night holding hands with the woman I love, and tears of joy for the birth of my two children. As you can see America means almost everything to me. I love this country as I love my own and I would be more than ready to defend its values if asked to. The United States received me with open arms three years ago and since then I have been able to assimilate myself into that great melting pot of cultures and ideologies called America. The melting pot is still alive providing immigrants and their descendants the chance to become full members—in one way or another—of American society. To better define the noun American, I would like to go back and humbly change the definition the common dictionary provides. I would define American as a person born in the United States and or a person who loves the United States as if he/she was born here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Trade Secrets

Blog in Spanish
No one can question all the advantages that the chemical revolution has brought to our lives. We now live longer than ever thanks to advances in medicine and medical equipment; thousands of remedies and medicines are available for the sick, and many illness that were fatal in the past are now extinguished. Many of the products medical professionals and the entire public use everyday are made of some type of synthetic chemicals. Nevertheless, the chemical revolution of the past 50 years has also altered nearly every aspect of our lives. Not all the chemicals registered at the Environmental Protection Agency ahs been tested. Therefore, the risk to human health of many of these chemicals is still unknown. Actually to test all the 75,000 chemicals registered in the APC would be impossible due to the high cost of conducting serious research. The video we watched in class stated that scientific research worldwide is finding that every one of us carries traces of synthetic chemicals in our bodies. This is something new. Previous generations were never exposed to these chemicals. The problem here is that we do not really know the effect that these synthetic chemicals may have in our bodies. Are they toxic; are they good for our bodies? We simply do not have an answer to these questions. What to do then? Should we stop using these chemicals to be completely safe from the harm they may cause us? I do not think that’s the best thing to do. For instance, without plastics, there will be no computers. We just can’t live without computers anymore. We just need to commit ourselves to do our best to prevent any harm synthetic chemicals may cause in the workers who deal with them everyday. The video Trade Secrets showed the sad story of Dan Ross who died of a rare type of brain cancer after being exposed to all sort of harmful chemicals for more than 25 years. The owners and managers of Conoco knew about the problem, but chose to remain quiet. I just do not understand how these people could sleep at night knowing that their workers were being exposed to dangerous chemicals. A student from our class summarized this discussion in a splendid way saying that “if we can’t make a balance between people and profit we have failed as managers.” The owners of the Conoco factory where Dam Ross gave his life did not understood this.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Tips to Battle Identity Theft

TIP 1
CHECK UP ON YOURSELF REGULARLY

Get a copy of your credit report every year from each of the major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian) to make sure the records are accurate.

TIP 2
TRAVEL LIGHT

Avoid carrying around credit card or personal documents unless you really need them.

TIP 3
KEEP PERSONAL DATA UNDER WRAPS

Don’t share personal ID numbers with anyone. Don’t provide information over the phone or hand over personal data unless you know it is needed. Keep a list of all account numbers in a secure place so that you have quick access if cards or documents get stolen or lost.

TIP 4
BUY A SHREDDER FOR THE HOME

Tear up or shred all credit card receipts and all new card offers that arrive in mail. Also destroy all documents that contain account numbers or other personal financial information.

TIP 5
CHECK THE MAIL

Don’t let mail sit in the mailbox for days on end. And don’t place sensitive outgoing mail, such as bills, in your home mailbox to await collection. Instead, drop it in a collection box.

Sources: Federal Trade Commission, American Bankers Association

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Vitality Curve

The vitality curve is a method of leadership aimed to produce a winning team. This concept is associated with Jack Welch who designed it as a 20-70-10 system where 20 percent of the work force ("top 20") work hard, 70 percent work ("the vital 70"), and 10 percent doesn't work ("bottom 10"). Managers who were placed in the bottom 10 percent were fired. This system may encourage managers to work harder, but it also has some difficulties. For instance, it becomes harder and harder to name the weakest players with the passing of time. Managers were fired annually. Probably it was easy to identify the weakest players during the first two or three years. However, as time goes on and on and the weakest players are already out of the game, chances are the good players will take the “weakest” positions. Those who do not deserve to be fired will be fired. To prevent this, managers will play every game in the book to avoid identifying their bottom 10. The vitality curve concept has many detractors. They think it's cruel or brutal to remove the bottom 10 percent of any company simply because their overall performance is not very productive. How about their families? How about their self-esteem? Well, there might be some people who deserve to be fired, but anyone can have a bad year. However, Jack Welch ignored the criticism and defended the layoffs of the weakest performers saying that “What I think is brutal and 'false kindness' is keeping people around who aren't going to grow and prosper. There's no cruelty like waiting and telling people late in their careers that they don't belong-just when their job options are limited and they're putting their children through college or paying off big mortgages." You know, he may be actually right. Nevertheless, I personally think that there are some people who always deserve a second chance. If they do not take advantage of that second chance, then let the vitality curve claim its victims.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

TV in Buthan


We watched a very interesting video in class today. The video was about the introduction of television into the kingdom of Bhutan and how it revolutionized the otherwise pacific daily life in this remote part of the world. For some people, Television is viewed in Bhutan as a symbol of the western world, and an attempt to threaten the deep-rooted Buddhist culture that predominates in Bhutan. Nevertheless, there are others who are in favor of television. I believe that television, if properly controlled, can be a helpful tool for any society. For instance, television will help the young people in Bhutan to be much more in tune with globalization and what is happening around the world. Children in Bhutan will be exposed to some good programs and to some bad programs. The Bhutanese government is mostly worried about the effect programs like WWF, where people fight each other without a purpose, and pornography will have among youngsters. What I can’t understand is how any society has taken so long to open its frontiers to any kind of modernization. I feel sorry for the young children living in Bhutan. They are forced to live a simplistic life just because they do not know any other way. I mean, these people are so obsessed with religion that they tend to forget to just live and enjoy life. I think Bhutanese government and Bhutanese parents should ask themselves what is best for their children. Do they want their children going around dressed in a ridiculous red toga chanting and meditating for the rest of their lives? Or do they want their children to learn, to experience, to visit other countries and get an education that permits them to become valuable to society? Bhutanese society has to solve a big dilemma. TV is not the problem, the problem is whether Bhutanese society is willing to accept that their way of life is obsolete and has no place in a world like ours. Let those who want to live in the past, live in the past. Let those who want something better, have something better. Bhutanese children have the right to a better life, if television if the beginning of that life, let them have all television they want.


 

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