Another day, another corporate scandal

Volkswagen’s unethical business practices teach us all a lesson about integrity.

Martha Pietruszewski

Buying or receiving your first car is always an exciting time in your life. You finally turn 16, pass your driver’s test and your parents hand you keys to a junker that’s ready for you to explore the world.
 
Roll down the windows and feel the wind, baby. Unfortunately, the air won’t be as clean as you thought —Volkswagen, a popular German car manufacturer, was recently found to have cheated on its diesel emission tests. Volkswagen showed a lack of business ethics with this finding, which diminished its reputation.
 
In 2015, a scandal like this is going to break to the public sooner or later. Just look at Enron or the global financial crisis. The best way to avoid any type of scandal is to be transparent with the processes your company uses and simply to make ethical decisions. If, in fact, a company finds itself in an awkward position, it would also be smart to
have a contingency plan. 
 
Why are business ethics important? In a world where there’s a whole lot of money floating around, it’s easy to get tempted to slide some extra cash your way or to make your company seem better than it actually is. Companies need to stay true to their values in times when this is the case.
 
There will always be consequences for the wrong choices, so it’s time to make the right ones. Volkwsagen’s shares have decreased by about 30 percent since the scandal
broke. Employees are now also subject to a criminal investigation. If found guilty, they will face individual fines and up to 10 years in prison.
 
While cheating on a simple test may have seemed like a good idea at the time, Volkswagen has to fix its problem. On Tuesday, the company announced that it will refit up to
11 million cars that the test affected. This could cost approximately $6.5 billion for something that shouldn’t have cost anything at all.
 
To me, those outcomes just don’t seem worth it. At a big company like Volkswagen, the scandal also hurts a lot more people than its car customers, such as investors and employees.
 
However, I know what it feels like to be pressured to make yourself seem cooler or smarter than you actually are, and I applaud Volkswagen for taking the steps to fix this problem, even if it will cost money and cause a lot of pain.
 
In order to not make the same mistakes as companies like Volkswagen, we need to become more aware of how we act in ethical situations. Instead of 
only thinking about what you want to do, think about what you should do. Chances are, those two answers will be different. 
 
Also, follow your moral compass. I firmly believe that most people are inherently good, unless you are some sort of dictator. You will know what’s wrong and what’s right by
the feeling you get in your gut when the time comes to make a hard decision.
 
Above all, think about who you are, who you want to be and how your actions will impact that. I don’t need to see a Gopher in the news for making poor 
decisions.