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Just because its legal...


……..doesn't make it right!

We all know people who define right as "within the law". In other words, if you won't go to jail for it, it has to be OK.

Sadly, the law is so stretched today, we have also stretched the legal and right parameters.

People who have studied Ethics can present us with numerous situations where knowing which the right decision should be is almost impossible.

It is interesting that there is a school of thought that believes that everybody is corrupt (except themselves – they are just forced to go with the flow).   Not corruptible, but corrupt.  It is a cynical view, and the truth is there is a good chance they are going to be correct enough times to be able to treat opposition as naïve!

Have certain white collar issues become generally acceptable?

We had an internal fraud case a few years ago.  One of the fraudsters told me, and he appeared to believe it, that he didn't see what was so wrong.  He was of the opinion that this was how all new companies started.

He informed me that you needed to take the customers and the contacts of your previous employer.  Of course, he was stealing the business of his current employer, at the time, but he didn't really see a difference....

Who owns your contact list?

In the same vein, there was a great article by Liz Ryan on LinkedIn recently about what you owe, and don’t owe, your company.  One of the things you don’t owe, is your personal contact list nor your previous company’s client list.  

Legal but not right?

Is it legal to sit down in a book store and read a whole book?  Well, yes, they don't really stop you, but is it right?

We also have bought into the so-called victimless crime.   Is there such a thing?   A lot of people strongly believe there is, particularly if they are committing it themselves!

If we look at the PR disaster around Sanral, and the tolls, it is actually illegal not to pay the tolls, but there is a very active contingent who think it is right not to pay.  

Maybe we’ve all watched too many law and order/courtroom dramas, and have started to believe the hype around “technicalities”.

So back to the daily dilemmas

Is it legal not to tip for good service?   Of course.   Is it right?    When you sit in a restaurant, there is an unspoken agreement between patron and waiter – good service = tip.

How about taking a permanent job just to tide you over while you wait for acceptance on the one you really want?   Who can blame you?      

When I lie awake at 3.30 am every morning, woken by our neighbour’s rooster, and try to find an effective way to block out the sound, the thoughts going through my mind are far from legally acceptable.

Is it legal to have farmyard animals in the heart of a residential city area? I don’t know, it sure doesn’t feel right, though.

Do you have some examples of this?

We have discussed many at our management training sessions, but for me it comes down to one thing.   If you have read Charles Kingsley’s The Water Babies, you will remember Mrs Doasyouwouldbedoneby.   (My dad used to love quoting her, and her not so politically correct counterpart, Mrs DoasIsaynotasIdo.)



A simple, but wonderful philosophy.

If you know that you would hate it to happen to you, it might be legal, but it probably isn’t right!


Links and References
email:      tschroenn@accsys.co.za
twitter:   @TerylSchroenn
Liz Ryan –http://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20141106155149-52594-five-things-you-owe-your-employer-and-five-you-don-t?trk=pulse-det-nav_art

http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/right
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