Sunday, May 31, 2009

Is That a Pledge Pin, Soldier?

Harvard UniversityImage via Wikipedia

Forgive the reference to one of the favorite movies from my early teenage years, but it came to mind when I read a NY Times article about the Harvard MBA's who were taking a pledge to act responsibly, ethically, and refrain from advancing their "own narrow ambitions" at the expense of others.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for people acting with integrity and ethics, but I find this news somewhat disturbing. First, only 20% of the graduating class has signed it so far. I refuse to believe the rest of the 80% don't believe in what the oath stands for. Instead, I'm very hopeful that those 80% feel a bit like me - why do I need to sign an oath to do what should be considered normal course of action?
As a father of two boys (12 and 14), I certainly hope they don't need to sign an oath to remember to do what's right - I know that the values my parents, coaches, teachers, Sunday School leaders and other adults instilled in me helped form the basis for my actions. Likewise, I would hope that the future leaders of business already had formed a moral compass that will guide them as they encounter ethical challenges in the workplace. If an oath helps them remember to do the right thing, great. But hopefully it's only a reminder to do what they would have done otherwise, and not the sole thing guiding them.

Perhaps I'm being a bit cynical - what do you think?
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