A few weeks ago I got to work in my usual disheveled state and remembered that I had a meeting with people who don’t know me well enough to not think about my 40-year-old tie-dye tee shirt during what was supposed to be a serious conversation. So I went out and bought a blouse.
Long story short, I went to the meeting trying not to think too much about what I looked like. When I got there I was ushered into a conference room where we met not only the local group but, also people at two other locations — their voices emanated through a speaker and there was a screen set up at one end of the room. As the distant folk began to introduce themselves I turned toward the screen and found that what it showed was the group in the room I was in and I was front and center in this weird blouse.
Two things came to mind. First, “Omigod, I look horrible!” And second, what kind of weird setup is this where you are talking to others but gazing at yourself?
So I turned my back to the screen and the meeting went well. But it made me think about the line that we all approach once in a while, where on the surface we are negotiating for the best interests of the people our organizations are meant to benefit, but looking more directly at ourselves as institutions and players in those institutions.
It is an ethical concern.
In times of scarce resources (and anytime) these are the kinds of mixes that require us to step back a bit and think about the work and the best interests of those we are meant to benefit without ourselves (or our institutions) in the center of the frame. Our institutions are merely vehicles albeit often ones full of spirit and soul.
Anyway — this is just one of a number of ethical realms my friends are considering right now. Are there things going on in your institution that skirt ethical behavior? Guidance is available by writing to NPQ’s Nonprofit Ethicist!
Write The Nonprofit Ethicist today and he will answer any question you pose. When you write, feel free to use all your real details — if we decide to print your question and the Ethicist’s response, we will let you edit out any incriminating details before we go to press.
Meanwhile, I am thinking of you all out there. Take care.