10/01/2015 05:30 EDT | Updated 10/01/2016 05:12 EDT

The End Does Not Justify the Means

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Young Woman Handing Over Her Resume

Volkswagon stated a clear goal that they wanted to be the world's largest automaker; a goal they achieved in the first half of 2015. Prior to reaching that goal, they realized that in order to be number one, they had to excel (or at least compete) in particular market niches.

Clean diesel was one of those niches. They wanted their cars to have lower emissions than the others. They wanted to advertise that, they wanted to capitalize on that.

And they certainly did. Successfully.

However, as we know, in order to do that, they had to deliberately falsify emissions tests. Their diesel cars were emitting 40 times the allowed level (U.S.) of nitrogen oxides. That clearly was an issue they had to fix. However, in order to fix it, they didn't actually fix the emissions these cars were producing, the installed a software ("defeat devices") that made them appear to test better than they actually did.

And that helped get them to the number one car company in the world.

Until they were caught. The U.S. authorities could (in theory) impose up to $18US billion penalties. Add all the other countries, owners, dealers etc. into the penalty structure and you have a massive amount of money ... all for the sake of selling cars.

Was it worth it for them? You might say it was worth it until they were caught. If they hadn't been caught, it would have been worth it.

Is it even worth the risk?

What about the person that lies on their resume to show a degree they didn't earn? Are those types of lies worth it? If the person without a degree can do the job without the (prerequisite generic) degree, do they need that degree? What does it prove? Without it listed on the resume, they don't get an interview; but they are more than capable of doing the job.

Is that type of lie worth it? Does the end justify the means?

What about the young adult who puts a job on their work history, when they didn't actually have that job.? Or the person who lies about why they were away from work, claiming to be sick when they were taking care of an elderly parent; and they don't offer that type of benefit at work.

Is that kind of lie worth it?

Does the end justify the means in all cases? We have created a society where it appears that it does.

Television is a perfect example of that. How does Survivor work? To outwit, outplay, outsmart the opponents. I think it is fair to say that whoever wins is not the person who told the truth, played ethically and was a nice guy. It is the person who cheated and lied most successfully. The one that could justify why they did what they did.

So in theory, we are actually encouraged by a society that the end does justify the means aren't we? Doesn't that make Volkswagon a causality, because it appears that everyone believes the end justifies the means.

We shouldn't encourage that thinking. We need to create a revolution of people who reward others for "doing the right thing". We need Canadian companies to be ethical, to be honest, and to want to do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do.

We want leaders who know the difference between right and wrong and are focused on that instead of profits at whatever costs profits take.

Volkswagon was wrong in their attempt to cheat the system, and I'm sure we all agree on that point.

I'm not sure we would all agree with the point of lying on your resume about education or work experience.

The problem is the gray zone for most people.

Or is it? Isn't just true that we justify our behaviours to fit our personal needs? Isn't that exactly what Volkswagon did?

We need to have a zero tolerance on the "outwit, outplay, outlast" thinking. A lie is a lie is a lie, and it is wrong. Your justification does not make it okay.

The end does NOT justify the means.

Now if we could just get our business leaders to agree with us.


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