I just got off a most amusing press conference call with Dell announcing with much fanfare its new ethics policy for the blog world in association with WOMMA (see the two posts below).
I sensed that the reporters on the call found it as curious as I did that Dell thinks this is new and worthy of a big announcement. Isn’t it always a company’s policy, in any interaction — by blog, telephone, or letter — to be open and honest?
They try to argue that blogs are new and they need to teach employees how to be ethical in their interaction with them. Said the leader of WOMMA: “We’re making it easy to be ethical.”
I think my mother made that easy when she told me not to lie. And she didn’t belong to any Association of Ethical Moms.
In fact, I think it’s possibly dangerous to put up this elaborate construct of policies and guidelines and toolkits and announcements. The message to employees should be as simple as this:
Tell the truth.
Now I didn’t want to drag Dell through glass over my blog encounters with them and their ad agency. But on the call, I did ask — twice — what they have learned from their interaction with blogs, reminding them of what Dwight Silverman learned when they told him their policy toward blogs was “look, don’t touch.” I saw after the call that on the Dell blog, in a post that went up at that moment, Lionel Menchaca acknowledged that past: “Dell Hell happened just over year ago and while we’re pleased with some of the progress we’ve made so far, we know we’ve just scratched the surface.” Good on him.
On the call, though, the executives would not acknowledge that past or any lessons in any way. They kept insisting that this announcement was “not reactive but proactive” and that they were taking a “proactive leadership position.” (I hate that corporatespeak.) And that’s too bad, because a moment of honesty about Dell’s lessons might be more helpful to other companies than a hundred bullets on an ethics policy.
I also asked, by the way, about employees blogging and they said that employees could blog now and, in response to the question, they said that executives will blog, including Michael Dell. I look forward to linking to him.