I do not know how shifting what is right and what is wrong to ‘brand purpose’ solves the problem of getting clarity on what is right and what is wrong.
In an era of high and relentless competition, the temptation to deviate from “ what is right” however vague this may be defined is immense. So we need a definition that is flexible: may be there is no absolute right and absolute wrong but the same act can be right in some situations and wrong in others.
Let me explain: In my view if a decision / action gives + to the receivers of that decision or action in a defined role, it is right. If the same decision or action gives – to the receivers in the same role it is wrong. In other words, the right and wrong should be based on the role you are in and not in absolutes, and in what the receivers of your role get and not what anybody else gets.
In GM’s example, the role of GM is to give safety – uncompromisingly – to its external customers i.e., users of its automobiles. Obviously ignoring a faulty ignition switch and letting it go to give + to its shareholders, placing them above its external customers is wrong and therefore the decision/ action is wrong. This takes us to the question of prioritizing multiple receivers of the same role, as in GM’s case, external customers and stake holders. In such a case we ask a simple question of interdependence between the two systems like this: If we give + to external customers first successfully, does it make it easier for us to give + to the stake holders? OR if we give + to the stake holders first successfully, does it make it easier for us to give + to the external customers? The answer is obviously first to external customers as giving + to stake holders first will ensure that you cannot continue giving it to them in the long term if the customers turn off from GM because its cars can kill.So obviously what GM has chosen to do is unethical.
In Mozilla’s case however, the competing receiving systems are external customers &the organization on the one hand and society on the other. In the role of CEO he has to give + to the external customers ( part of society) and the organization ( employees, part of society). So he should have risen above his personal values while discharging his role as CEO and should not have done what he did in clause 8. Else he is free to change his role, quit as CEO and then begin a movement against marriages other than between a man and a woman. Which is what probably he has done.
The confusion of what is right and wrong comes when we de-link the role one is in and when we fail to prioritize the receivers of the role.
The other factor is the power that is vested in a CEO without adequate checks. So he becomes a vehicle with super engine -accelerator and very small brake at best. So there is every chance of any CEO becoming a vehicle without adequate brake and crash. This is increasingly happening, around the world. The problem to be sorted out is the absence of a balance between engine-accelerator and brake. The brakes do not apply today when nobody is around!
A Sanskrit sloka defines character as : something you do or do not do when nobody is watching you.