Just a few days ago I had the honor of representing Teradata at Ethisphere’s “World’s Most Ethical Companies” celebration in New York City, an event at which Teradata won its NINTH consecutive WMEC award in just its tenth year of existence. The dominant message on the evening was this: For a company that is a true world leader, corporate ethics begins not with the law — the litany of rules and regulations it must follow to stay out of trouble — but rather with a sense of corporate values, modeled from the top, that include an awareness of the impact its business and behaviors are having on the people, the communities, and the other companies whom it influences. For me, there is nothing profound in this mantra. It is a simple restatement, in the corporate context, of the Golden Rule: “Goodness” comes in treating the people around you in the manner you hope they’ll treat you.
I believe firmly in the Golden Rule. I believe putting it to practice requires not just an awareness of the people around us, but an empathy and willingness to serve them as well. And I believe, for purposes of my own life, the “people around me” are to be defined very broadly, like the ocean is to a trickling stream: My service begins with the immediate community and flows out to the (rapidly shrinking) world from there.
For the twenty years we’ve lived in San Diego, my family & I have drawn our service inspiration from two organizations — the SD-based charity Friends & Family Community Connection (FFCC), and our faith community at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in the suburb of Poway. FFCC began more than 20 years ago by providing after-school programs and meal assistance to under-privileged families in the Poway school system. It has since become a far-reaching international organization that provides disaster & hunger relief, academic & agricultural education programs, and youth & educational facilities both domestically and in many countries around the world. FFCC has a particularly strong presence in the nations of Tanzania and Haiti, where it has built on-going programs and relationships with several rural communities since 2007 and 2010, respectively. My (now grown) kids and I collectively made eight trips to Tanzania and Haiti with FFCC over a six-year period. Teradata itself has supported the work of FFCC with cash donations and paid volunteer time toward many of the 130+ food-packing events FFCC has hosted in San Diego and around the USA.
More recently, I have made two trips to the remote rural village of Lauranette, Haiti (leading a group of high-school students there in August 2017), where St. Bartholomew’s has partnered with local community elders to fund and construct a six-classroom school building that educates and feeds 300 children every day of the school year. Just three miles from the Dominican border, Lauranette has absorbed an influx of people displaced by political conflict from their Dominican homes over the last three years, leaving many kids in the village with no place in the small, severely underfunded, makeshift public school there. The new building also serves as a community center and, we learned when Hurricane Irma struck Haiti’s north coast in Summer 2017, a reliable shelter for up to 200 villagers in even the most violent weather conditions. The school is the first (and to-date the only completed) permanent structure in the Lauranette community.