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Why good people sometimes do bad things: 52 reflections on ethics at work
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passenger, the more female passengers kept the money and the more male passengers gave
it back. For men, as the temptation increased, so did the sense of responsibility, whereas with
women the opposite was the case, according to the researchers.
Petty misdemeanors in organizations should not be trivialized. The workplace is full of small
temptations like Feldman’s bagels. Figures show that, whether it’s stationery (especially at
the start of the school year), toilet paper, or milk and sugar sachets (especially at the start
of the summer vacation), employees take them in large quantities for private purposes
without permission. And the slightly larger crumbs are also almost daily fare. KPMG research
among the American working population shows that over a year, 21 percent witnessed a
colleague overclaiming expenses, 18 percent saw a co-worker stealing property belonging to
the organization, and 15 percent were aware of unauthorized business gifts being accepted
within the organization.
When a chairman was presented with such igures regarding the situation in his own
organization, he waved this away with the words: ‘There are big, general sins, the deadly sins,
and there are daily, petty sins. We’re talking about the latter here.This is
.’ But perhaps
values lie precisely in those petty matters. Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of
themselves. It’s the small things that matter. The criminal often begins as a petty thief.
wise, pound foolish
is a criticism often directed at organizations. The opposite can be equally
dangerous, however, as when the owner of a discredited construction company once said,
‘An entrepreneur should think big and act small.You stumble over the threshold, not the fence.’
3. Bagels at work: honesty and dishonesty