Mary Anne Gale, former vice president of Procter & Gamble, held a discussion Tuesday on “Ethics and International business.”
Gale was the first female plant manager and was later the first vice president of the manufacturing organization. She had a 35-year career with P&G and is now retired. Although retired, she wrote a book and began speaking at several engagements.
Many of Gale’s core business values came from her prior employment with P&G.
Gale began by explaining what a true leader does.
“A leader sets the tone for everything, your leadership and your beliefs,” she said. “Your choice is all about you, nobody makes you do anything. Don’t ever make a decision because you were intimidated or under stress. Always figure out the consequences of your actions for yourself before you act.
“The true heart and soul lies in principles, values and purpose.”
Gale spoke of core values and how they deal with respect for all individuals.
The first core value she gave is it is important to always try to do what is right.
The second was environmental quality needs to be stressed. A standard of worldwide business conduct and individual behavior was the third value.
Gale’s fourth value involved the need for operating policies, procedures and practices, which are administrative procedures. The last core value calls for the implementation of systems and internal control. These are necessary tools and processes used to carry out and monitor the consistent implementation of polices and procedures.
Gale said when trying to determine if something is ethical, an individual must question himself or herself.
“If I could leave you with nothing else, I would leave you with this,” Gale said. “Before you make any choice ask yourself a series of questions.
“Is my action the right thing to do? If you can’t answer the prior question, then ask yourself would it be OK if what I am doing showed up in the newspaper? There are many terrible impacts if something negative about your company hits the press. If what you are doing came back to the person it affects, would they be OK with hearing what you did?”
Gale said it is important for people to be truthful because unethical procedures can have long-lasting effects.
“The truth sets you free, a lie you are caught in forever,” she said. “I have never seen someone get fired for telling the truth, though I have seen plenty get fired for lying.”
During her speech, Gale gave several scenarios to determine whether they were ethical. She looked at potential ethical issues with buying a movie while on a business trip, a personal relationship with one of your employees, business being handled in cash, and altering a schedule already in place. All of the scenarios were determined as unethical.
Another scenario Gale used was about relationship with a vender. Gale spoke about a person in a relationship that consisted of bribery. She quoted that person as saying, “The first time was so hard, but after that it was so easy.” Her point was to never accept a bribe.
Gale ended with a real-life example of how P&G faced ethical issues.
The example dealt with raw materials in China. P&G had decided to set up a factory in China. After the factory was built, the company realized it had all but four of its raw materials.
The raw materials got held up at the border of China. In order for them to bring the materials in, China wanted the company to pay a hefty fee.
Gale said P&G stood firm in its beliefs and core values and went to the government. After this, it finally received the materials.
The company had to wait 2 1/2 months before receiving the materials. Although this situation put it behind on production, through this, the company was able to retain its business integrity.