Seth Godin is writing about Apple’s grand move of firing 800 retail employees for double-dipping into their iPhone benefits. Seth thinks it is marketing and he is probably right. Apple sent a clear message of high ethics to other employees and to the market.
The bothersome question is the fact that Apple actually had to fire 800! employees to make this point. I could only think of two reasons for this massive misbehavior: The rules were not clear for Apple employees or that there is a low ethics atmosphere in Apple stores.
While Apple demonstrated leadership and sent a clear message to the market, this massive layoff should not be the end of the process but rather the beginning. Restoring ethics will require Apple to do much more than printing 800 pink slips.
Think about your company: do you provide easy ways for employees to cheat? Do you ignore minor corner cuttings? It is tempting to cheat on small things. Make sure you don’t leave cracks in the door and don’t be surprised if people actually go through those cracks.