It’s hard to be perfectly truthful at every moment, such as when you want to avoid hurting someone’s feelings or micro-managing them. It can also be hard to always “keep the peace” when compromise seems out of reach. Truth and peace are common circumstances among friends and family, but what does it mean in the business world?
Just like in our personal relationships, even the best-intentioned business can’t be both 100% truthful and 100% peaceful in every situation. Our world isn’t black and white, but rather infinite shades of gray. Rosh Hashanah is the ideal time to examine the challenges we face in our ethical values and behaviors in our personal and professional lives over the past year and to strive for improvement in the year ahead.
Are absolute truth and peace ever achievable?
Common sense tells us that the combined power of nature and nurture, no matter the balance, can lead us to perfect truth and peace. Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik z”l shared the teaching that “Man can be either a perfect man of truth or a perfect man of peace, but not both.” In other words, there is an inherent conflict between truth and peace.
Why are truth and compromise at odds? He explains that the man of truth will not compromise, and the man of peace will do so too easily just to avoid strife. So what path should we follow in any given situation?
Guidance for the conflict between truth and peace
As much as we love truth and peace, scholars recognize the impossibility of having a 100% record of practicing truth and peace in our times. The code of Jewish law recognizes this conflict and allows one to alter the truth for the sake of pursuing peace, fulfilling a commandment, praising a bride, and maintaining one’s humility and modesty (apart from criminal actions). Even with this instruction, the best course of action in any given situation can still remain unclear.
Two of our greatest Sages, Hillel and Shammai, asked what should be said to a bride on her wedding day if she is unattractive? Do we assume that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that surely her groom will find her attractive or, on the other hand, should one remain truthful and withhold any compliment? Truth or peace?
Business integrity with a foundation of truth and peace
In addition to our personal relationships, businesses also deal with the ambiguities of what is right and wrong in regard to employees, sustainability, transparency, social responsibility, and more. Organizations often face conflict adhering to underlying values of—in business-speak—transparency and team unity.
Just as we have the wisdom of our Sages to help guide us, companies establish codes of conduct and other policies to bolster integrity. Unfortunately, many companies fail to set, apply, or enforce such policies. Others, however, do their best to “walk the talk,” even if they don’t succeed 100% of the time.
An example of corporate responsibility
Let’s look at Dell Technologies as an example of a company that, while not perfect, strives to be a responsible corporate citizen through well-defined, shared values that reflect various aspects of truth and peace.
We can start by looking at elements the Dell Code of Conduct:
- Customers: We believe our customer relationships are the ultimate differentiator and the foundation for our success.
- Winning Together: We believe in and value our people. We perform better, are smarter, and have more fun working as a team than as individuals.
- Results: We believe in being accountable to an exceptional standard of excellence and performance.
- Integrity: We believe integrity must always govern our fierce desire to win.
More detailed policies and programs for internal and external audiences exist to provide a comprehensive foundation for corporate integrity.
So how is Dell performing?
A significant way to look at how well a company adheres to its values is by seeing how well they percolate through the organization. Interviews with 1,045 Dell employees by Comparably show that:
- 61% of Dell employees are motivated by the company’s mission, vision, and values.
- 67% of employees say Dell’s goals are clear, and they are invested in them.
- The Dell values that are most meaningful to them are Transparency & Integrity (52%) and Teamwork & Winning (23%).
Another angle on viewing Dell’s performance is the company’s exceptional reputation in the larger business community, as reflected by its many corporate awards. Here are just a few:
- Fast Company, 2023 World Changing Company of the Year: This award, focused on corporate social responsibility, recognizes Dell’s efforts to address the digital divide and climate change.
- Forbes, 2022 World’s Best Employers: Dell scored 10th out of 750 companies based on factors including economic footprint, talent development, gender equality, and social responsibility.
- 3BL, 100 Best Corporate Citizens of 2022: Dell ranked in the Top 100 (#72) for Best Corporate Citizens of 2022 based on transparency and performance on environmental, social, and governance issues.
A reality check on truth and peace in business
Dell has received many positive accolades. However, Dell is less than perfect, as evidenced by these lawsuits:
In 2020, Dell was sued by the EEOC for Violation of Equal Pay Laws, alleging that Dell paid a female IT analyst $17,510 less than a male co-worker for the same work. In another recent case, Dell paid a $1 billion settlement when it was accused of short-changing some shareholders in a controversial $23.9 billion transaction in 2018 that marked its return as a publicly traded company. At the current time, Dell is facing a class action lawsuit alleging it concealed a defective hinge system in its Inspiron 2-in-1 hybrid laptop, causing the system to fail prematurely.
True, these are cases of legal wrongdoing rather than less weighty issues. The point is that even though a company’s values and actions reflect the objectives of truth and peace, mistakes can and do happen. After all, companies are made up of people who are only human.
Striving for perfection in an imperfect world
In this world, truth and peace are often at odds. Perfection may not be possible, but individuals and businesses can strive to address everyday interactions and resolve conflicts in the spirit of loving truth and peace. Every day, the Elite Roofing team does its best to take our work to the next level when working with our team members, customers, and partners. Rosh Hashanah is a special time to take stock of our personal lives and our businesses, and we are always open to feedback about how we can do better.
Since 1956, the Elite Roofing team has prided ourselves in being firmly committed to integrity, honesty, and workmanship. We may not be 100% perfect, but we sure try! Contact us today and find out how Elite Roofing can be a trustworthy roofing partner for repairing, restoring, or new roof construction for your industrial, commercial, or residential complex in Toronto.