I recently received an E-mail from an associate, an elected official in a nearby community, offering me a $20 Applebee’s gift certificate if I forwarded this official, signed by the owner of Applebee’s E-mail, to nine of my friends and family. It said that Applebee’s was looking to increase awareness in rural areas, so I immediately wondered how anyone would know I was in a rural area by my e-mail address.

I headed for my favorite hoax site, and forwarded information to the more than 80 E-mail addresses detailed in the message, that this was indeed a hoax and not to send it to anyone.

In response, the originator told me that he knew it was a hoax when he sent it. Hoping to discourage him in the future, I asked him why he would knowingly perpetuate a hoax that could put the E-mail addresses of his friends and family in jeopardy of being harvested for spam, not to mention the reflection on him as an elected official who represents people on important issues.

I got an almost immediate response detailing that it had nothing to do with his being an alderman, and that this is how he prefers to communicate with friends and family on a regular basis. We obviously have different ideas of communicating with friends and family. In my mind, this is a reflection on his reputation, which I would think is important to the people he represents. My mistake!

He didn’t take the time to consider what harm it would do to them (friends and family), or consider his reputation. That’s what ethics are all about. Thinking beyond the scope of your business, and making sure that what you’re doing is legal, fair to everyone (will it favor one party over another), and that you do no harm (How will it make me feel about myself?).

Wishing you continued success and the wisdom to consider ethical decisions.

Author's Bio: 

Jeannine Clontz, IVAA CVA, MVA, EthicsChecked™, provides marketing and social media support, training and consulting to busy entrepreneurs. For information about finding a VA, download her FREE 10-Step Guide to Finding the Right VA, or to learn why Social Media should be an important part of your marketing plan with her FREE Report, Social Media Marketing Benefits, visit: http://www.internetmarketingvirtualassistant.net, or contact her at info@internetmarketingvirtualassistant.net