Friday, January 6, 2006


I came across this news article through the guys at alarm:clock. The first line reads:

Morgan Stanley fired four employees in recent weeks after they accompanied at least one client to a strip club, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Funny move by my wife's old firm. How many times do investment bankers take their clients to strip clubs? Probably as many times as the client asks. Maybe the client got in trouble with his wife and created a ruckus to cover his ass? Maybe these bankers were stupid and initiated the move to the strip club with a conservative client that was "shocked"? I assume in most cases it's the client leading the charge.

Actually, you sometimes get clients that abuse their relationships with bankers, especially in emerging markets. I know during the time WiderThan went public one of the people from their finance division in Korea called various investment bankers on the deal to take him to room salons every week. Room salons are like geisha houses in Japan where woman sit there and pour you drinks and talk to you.

Naturally, some would argue that it's morally wrong in the first place to take clients to strip clubs or room salons. Yes, I agree with those of you living in caves but it's part of certain business circles. What was unethical in this specific situation is that there are a handful of times to celebrate an aspect of the deal process where bankers take out their clients, but to abuse that relationship is unethical and simply not a good business practice. Also it's not just going to shady places but golf outings and trips abroad.

I heard the guy from WiderThan was so bad and desparate to go to these room salons that he went down the totem pole and started to call the lawyers on the deal who don't have expense accounts for such things (must be one awkward and ugly dude since you can do that stuff for free at any bar:). I believe everyone hated him on the deal.

In another random situation that blipped on my ethics radar recently, I came across a church website that plagiarized another church's website. How lazy and messed up is this? Also it's on the Internet, so they didn't think someone would catch it? Peter Hong is my close friend and pastor of the church, New Community, that was the victim in this minor but unethical offense. A welcoming message was written by him a while back. Then I came across another church, New Life Community Church, and on their website they copied this post by Peter word for word on their church "history" page:

What would happen if a generation of believers gathered across social, economical and cultural differences for one common purpose: To seek the heart of God and build relationships that will impact Chicago and then the world? Is it possible to be a church that models the New Testament church of the 1st century and still impact a generation in the 21st century? Can we be a church where people from all walks of like, regardless of where they’re at in their spiritual journey, are valued and find acceptance?

About two years ago, prompted by these same questions, a small group of people began to pray. It was their conviction that God had placed a special burden on their hearts to have a church that would reach their generation with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They began praying with the dream of one-day worshipping as part of an authentic community that valued openness, honesty, and acceptance. This worshipping community also had another passion. That passion was for each person that stepped foot into the community to become a fully, devoted follower of Jesus Christ. The dream was for people to experience a New Life (spiritually, physically, emotionally, etc.) within themselves.

How can this church preach the basics of Christianity if they can't keep their integrity on such a simple thing? I'm guessing this is just a surface issue and there are probably deeper issues within this church.

I believe one of the greatest temptations for moral compromise and sin is the shortcut. Whether in the world of business, church, nonprofit, or politics, shortcuts will always present themselves. I'm not referring to efficiency or any aspect of an organization's operations, but the more general aspect of opportunities and forks in the road that leaders, executives, pastors, and others face during the development of an organization. And these shortcuts typically come with a cost. A shortcut to riches, fame, or success...

If I don't report this deal, I can come out $3 million richer.
If I sign this recording contract without my friends, I'll become successful years ahead of my plans.
If I bribe this government official, I'll hit my sales quota by Q3.
If I compromise my faith and value system on this issue, my congregation will grow tenfold.
If I pay cash to my employees, it will be more money for me.

Of course these scenarios are replayed countless times in numerous lives, but the first time you cross the ethical boundaries you established for yourself it becomes easier the next time. I personally think such compromises are never worth the gain they bring.

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