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February 5, 2016

Do the Right Thing

The more we are ourselves, the less we are like everyone else.

Bob Bennitt, our esteemed and, indeed, fearless leader, recently forwarded me an email and asked me to reference it in an upcoming Friday Digression. Had it been about marketing or print or even a cool event in the Los Angeles area, I would have done so without a second thought.

The email, however, was a letter from the White House written by the CEO of one of our business partners, Salesforce.com. Regardless of the content, the source made it political. And, as Michael Jordan once, supposedly, said, when asked to endorse a Democratic candidate for Mayor of Charlotte, “Republicans buy sneakers too.” In other words, he wasn’t going to use his platform as one of the world’s most admired athletes to take a political stand.

His was, perhaps, a wise decision. For no matter how innocuous or seemingly universal an opinion, there is assuredly someone who disagrees with you. In a business context, you may well lose business if they choose to voice their displeasure with your stance. And if there are many like-minded someones, their boycott can seriously hurt a business’s bottom line. From Chick-fil-A to Hobby Lobby arousing the ire of liberals to Kellogg’s and JC Penney upsetting conservatives, companies frequently come under fire if they give voice to anything resembling a political statement.

So my initial reaction to Bob’s idea was to firmly, if diplomatically, reject it. Those were hot coals I didn’t want us to walk across.

And yet, the more I thought about it, the more it nagged me. After all, the substance of the letter spoke to the noble actions of Saleforce.com to invest $3 million to close the wage gap between men and women at their company. How could anyone find fault with celebrating that?

Then something else occurred to me: it didn’t matter if they did. Because someone always does. And if we let the possibility of rejection color our values and belief in what is right, then we may as well not have them at all.

And make no mistake: The Pace Group’s values drive every decision we make. As Bob himself notes, “When I am clear about my values, decision-making becomes much easier.”

So, in turn, here I am, giving voice to our opinions and the “right” actions we support. Because “doing business” The Pace Group way is about more than just an exchange of currency for services rendered. It is about doing the right thing, even when it is the difficult thing to do.

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