A Lesson in Ethics From the Olympic Games

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A Lesson in Ethics From the Olympic Games

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How the #Olympics can teach companies to do what is right instead of what is expected: http://bit.ly/KY9oui #ethics @justmeans
Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 6:45pm


We each have our own favorite memories from the Olympic Games -- whether it be Jessie Owens demonstrating the absurdity of Adolf Hitler's racist notions, gymnast Nadia Comaneci's perfect "10"s, Kerri Strugg's valiant vault on a sprained ankle to win gold or Michael Phelps' eight gold medals. This summer the world can once again look forward to breathtaking athleticism and triumphant and emotional moments that can only come from the collective shared global experience that are the Olympic Games.

More than an example of global cooperation, athletic excellence, courage and determination, the Olympic Games have brought us one of the greatest demonstration of ethics and integrity, when, in 1964, Italian bobsled driver Eugenio Monti was faced with the choice between doing what was expected or doing what he knew was right.

When the Winter Olympic Games opened that year in Innsbruck, Austria, the favorites in the four-man bobsled were the Austrians and the Italians. But in the first heat, Canada broke the Olympic record and posted a substantial lead. During that record-breaking run, however, they damaged the axle on their sled. Facing disqualification, Team Canada reached the top of the track to find its sled upside down. Monti had instructed his mechanics to fix it. Canada went on to win the gold medal.

Later in the same games, Italy was again favored in the two-man bobsled event. Great Britain recorded the fastest time after their first run. However, similarly to the earlier incident, their sled was damaged -- a bolt attaching the runners to the sled had sheared off. Monti completed his run and had the needed bolt removed from his own sled and attached to the British bob. Great Britain took home the gold.

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John Friedman, an award-winning communications professional and recognized sustainability expert with more than 20 years of experience, is co-founder and vice chair of the board for the Sustainable Business Network of Washington (SBNOW).

On social media, Friedman is a recognized as a thought leader in CSR, listing among the top voices in CSR by Forbes’ Brandfog. His insights on sustainability issues and strategy have been a regular feature on SustainableBrands since 2008 and have appeared on Ecopreneurist.com, Forbes.com, Vaultcareers, and JustMeans.

When not volunteering his time, Friedman serves as director of public relations for Sodexo, Inc. He can be reached at johnf@sbnow.org, is @JohnFriedman on Twitter and can be connected on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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