Industry Research

Justice Gets Rough If You Break The Golden Business Rule

Martin Romjue
Posted on October 31, 2017
Providing duty of care is a mark of integrity for a chauffeured transportation service (LCT image)

Providing duty of care is a mark of integrity for a chauffeured transportation service (LCT image)

ATLANTA — During an interview with Atlanta operator Jeff Greene for this issue, he shared a view about Uber that has often troubled me as well.  

“They have changed the dynamics of the game like no other interruption in the business I’ve ever seen,” said Greene, owner of Greene Worldwide Transportation and a leader in city and national industry trade groups. “I am shocked the public has kind of thrown safety to the side. And now I think they’re starting to feel a little more aware, as there have been so many new stories of safety issues with the TNCs. And because of their business model, because of their culture, that’s not going to change.”

Greene hopes the TNC travelers will realize something he came to appreciate early in his adult life: “I don’t know how many people have to get seriously injured or killed before the public wakes up and realizes, ‘hey, you’re not invulnerable to this happening. You’re not immortal. This can happen to you.’ And I can tell you from being a police officer of 15 years, you never know. I’ve been shot at when I was a cop. I’ve been in fights. I’ve had to fight for my life.”

Uber Wreck
I share Greene’s well-informed shock about safety, not just the public’s blasé attitude toward it, but Uber’s constant denials and excuses. This year, Uber faces a mega-reckoning, with its founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick disgraced amid pending criminal investigations of his disruptive creation. The tragedy of Uber is that a brilliant, convenient, and desired service concept, from a tech standpoint, got compromised because of negligence and an arrogant leadership culture that played above the rules.

Uber could succeed with integrity; I’ve noticed Uber Black-level service in California at least uses legitimate charter party carriers with TCP licenses issued by the state. Other luxury transportation apps only use legal providers. The predominant lower-tier Uber X service, however, stirs a never-ending stream of drama and sludge with too many marginal drivers not background checked.

Kalanick lasted for nine years until he piloted his company right into a wall of harassment incidents and regulatory snubs. It’s no wonder Uber reaps the worst publicity of any app-economy venture. Kalanic retains a board seat and a tattered reputation, for which he should be thankful, actually. One thing you can always count on among corporate bad boys is they’ll never stop outdoing each other.

Ethical Insights
One of the most widely cited studies on business/corporate ethics is the National Business Ethics Survey done by the Ethics & Compliance Initiative in 2013. Overall, workplace misconduct was at a historic low a few years ago:

  • 60% of reported misconduct involved someone with managerial authority, the people who should be setting a good example of ethical conduct.
  • 74% to 81%: The percentage of companies providing ethics training rose from between 2011 and 2013.
  • 67% included ethical conduct as a performance measure in employee evaluations up from 60% in 2011.

At least Kalanick is not ending up like the troll of the year, Harvey Weinstein, the loathsome Hollywood film mogul who single-handedly indulged in a revolting power and exploitation scandal that betrays serious flaws in the entertainment world. He got away for decades with the most vile behavior toward women — openly excused and overlooked by so many of his compadres now howling outrage — until two media outlets bravely reported the truth despite threats and prior cowardice.

In a far tamer example, the week of the Weinstein fallout also brought a media report of an audit that found a public university professor in California had to return $1,000 for limo trips he charged to the school, and by extension, the taxpayers. At least he admitted he should have traveled in his personal car, and he paid the money back. That’s a second-chance on integrity. Big corruptions always start small.

Jerks Don’t Finish First
Whatever the negativity of these examples, we should be encouraged they came to light. Even the most entrenched business malpractice and bad behavior can eventually be exposed.   

Integrity survives because of the unseen, un-heralded workers and businesspeople who go about their jobs every day, knowing how to advance self-interest in ways that are honest, fair, and legal. At our parent company, Bobit Business Media, integrity is literally hung on the walls among a list of guiding company values. The first step in any business or organization is to make your values clear and to be upfront.

No business sector involving humans ever scores 100% on the integrity scale, but I know from almost 10 years of mingling at this industry’s trade shows and creating content that percentage would soar in the high double-digits.

Related Topics: business ethics, LCT editor, leadership, Martin Romjue, Travis Kalanick

Martin Romjue Editor
Comments ( 1 )
  • Anthony

     | about 3 years ago

    Lctmag please do an article and call it "ubers victims" 2017 january texas, 24 year old sarah milburn boarded an uber sienna.. the driver ran a red light and she is now paralized. Uber refuses to pay her medical bills saying "we are a texh app and not a taxi service

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