Our business in life is not to get ahead of others, but to get ahead of ourselves — to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterday by our today. -Stewart B Johnson
In a Public Relations stand point, it is in your favor as a small business, corporation, government, or even a nonprofit organization to operate in an ethical manner. As an organization, your image to the public will either make you or break you. Even though “Wal-Mart” is still the #1 company in America, it doesn’t mean that we should follow their unethical behavior. Although Wal-Mart would have been a great piece to write about, I’ve chosen to go in a different path.
Have you ever heard of the Private Military Contractor Blackwater?
If so, how ethical do you believe the company is or was?
Blackwater is one of the biggest private military contractors out there today that provided security in Iraq, Afghanistan and many other countries in which they are needed. They have since been bought out by a different owner and is now called “Academi”. These guys put their lives on the line daily even when it is unnecessary. Blackwater’s employee contracts routinely include clauses such as:
“1) If you defy a direct order, for any reason, you will be abruptly terminated and Blackwater will withhold all back salary and bring legal action against your family.
2) If you die or are injured on a mission due to the negligence of Blackwater, you can’t sue them. If you sue them, they will withhold all your back salary and bring legal action against you and your family.
3) You can be terminated for any reason whatsoever, and if you sue them for wrongful dismissal they will withhold all your back salary and bring legal action against you and your family.” http://zankrank.com/ and http://listverse.com/
The contract that Blackwater has these guys in puts them in a legal servitude until they quit, if they have a problem with Blackwater they will be sued until they back off. It’s “do as I say or else” kind of deal. Back in 2003-2004 during the Iraq War we were in Tikrit, Iraq. Blackwater guys would be there as well giving that much needed helping hand and yet in many cases, reckless as we saw it. Blackwater guys were much like having a team of Special Forces dudes running the show, even navy seals or marine recons. You saw them as the best of the best but you would never think the level of stress they are under.
Other than the fact that they deal with war, watching friends die and being demanded to go into places deemed by the Army, these guys have a contract to abide by. Just imagine, you have to take every order given to you whether you believe it’s ethical or not, whether it will cost lives or not and or give the company a bad name. Blackwater does not care about what you think, they have a contract as well with the government to get the job done and that’s what they will do at any cost.
You don’t get paid to have feelings or opinions, you get paid to kill and accomplish the mission. That’s it! You don’t, well kiss your job goodbye and plan to give every penny back to them. You basically worked your rear end for free and cannot sue them because it is in the contract. Crazy right?
There was a picture circulating the internet back in 2004 of four Blackwater employees strung up after they dangerously went through Fallujah in a SUV while escorting some freight trucks. We all know as soldiers that Fallujah was the most dangerous city to enter. They’ve always briefed us when we would drive through there to be very vigilant and stay alert at any cost. There are sections of the city that was deemed by the Army as “Operationally Dangerous” and we were not allowed in there unless we had some heavy guns with us. Well, the four Blackwater employees were given a direct order to go in there. No gunner, no back up, just two SUV’s, and their good faith. The four men were shot and dismembered, and two of the bodies were strung from a bridge while a crowd of Iraqis cheered and chanted.
Blackwater, cutting corners in the interest of higher profits, broke its contractual obligations to the men by sending them into hostile territory in unarmored vehicles without automatic weapons or a rear gunner even though they were promised one would be provided. These acts by Blackwater were unethical and morally disarming to the men under their contract. Thankfully, a lawsuit was in place by their families starting in 2005 and recently won in 2012.
After nearly 11 years of war in Iraq, thousands of contractors lost their lives over Blackwater’s demanding and unethical orders to their employees. The saddest part is that most if not all of their contractors were all previous Special Forces, Army Rangers, Marine Recons, Navy Seals just to name a few of the elite members. Veterans, soldiers, all worked for Blackwater and giving their lives for this country. Even though Blackwater served a great purpose in the security of Iraq, their unethical actions served no justice for those men and their families.
A business who indulges unethically showers in high risk of losing. –Andres Su