Pascal Derrien

5 years ago · 2 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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Integrity Blues

I must confess that originally I had a complete different idea for this article, what seemed to be a good topic at the time turned out to be a false great idea and ended up in verbal diarrhoea. I had in mind to talk about ethos pathos and logos and I sank pretty quickly in a sea of analogies and metaphors that led nowhere. 

With not too much to rescue from my first attempts except maybe only one vague idea worth salvaging. Integrity somehow imposed itself out of the written wreck with a very blurry statement about ethics. Not a great place to start a post especially when you don’t feel your usual upbeat but sometimes it is worth persisting against the odds even if it means getting black n blue. 

Representation matters and I love the ethos displayed in the running community at grassroots level, the resolute development of Parkrun, Couch to 5K and other programs such as & the Running Chicks show a spirit of achievement thru non-competitive events. It is encouraging to see the level of solidarity, camaraderie and respect thru clubs and numerous associations. It is heart-warming to see mushrooming charity races and other sporting events taking place almost on a weekly basis where the aim is only to aspire to be your personal best. It is actually infectious but the values carry an almost euphoric state of mind leading to an incredible level of collective naivety sometimes. 

Then wannabe elites and elites themselves bitterly disappoint, the adrenalin and runner high very often gate crashed on reality grounds if there is one ounce of a shadow casted on a beloved sport, remember Ben Johnson or Fagan anybody? As recently as this month rightly or wrongly big doubts over the head of Mo Farah. With the support and the lament of thousands of its admirers he is actually fighting tooth and nail to defend his reputation!!! But what if it is true, what if the whole competitive godlike aspect of pushing boundaries is a sham? What does it mean for me and you? 

"It's kind of hard to keep going sometimes but you just have to believe in what you are and what you can do and that's the way to success." - Buddy Guy 

In Ireland we have more a less 8000 charities. This a huge number of organizations for such a small country, some are very small and some are obviously bigger with larger budgets and staff. Anything from cancer and suicide prevention to children support or international engagement. All have in common a duty of care and more importantly the mandate to operate within a defined code of business conduct alongside an irreproachable and unquestionable governance framework. 

Now that’s the theory. While for the vast majority the adherence to a strong code of ethics is second nature some values get lost ``en route’’ when some charities grow and reach a different critical mass whether that is financially speaking or in terms of reach. Somewhat a culture of work around and interpretation of the books seem to invite itself at the least opportunistic moment and this is heart breaking. Remember the scandal of the Central Remedial Clinic and the remuneration of its executive team and board? What happened that led a world Samaritan to become a vile and pale copy of what he has been advocating against? 

"Me and the Devil was walkin' side by side." - Robert Johnson 

At the risk of passing for a populist and state the obvious I cannot resist mentioning businesses faux pas in general and the ones from the banking sector in particular. I am spoiled for examples but you know them too, Anglo Irish Bank or Northern Rock in Ireland, Lehmann Brothers in the US or Societe Generale in France must ring a bell or two. How come forensic audits and other regulatory bodies failed to identify the wrong doings of such large conglomerates. 

The interesting bit is that the individuals concerned always have a great alibi paying hardly any attention to the consequences triggered for the likes of you and me? They would even testify in courts that the business of forecasts calls for pain and unpredictability, this is business nothing corollary…… and some of them would even walk out free of any moral injunction. I suppose there is always an element of contradiction so no wonder there was a job advertising a role as ‘’Ethical Hacker’’ recently!! Where does this leave us? 

I think we need to make it personal it does not have to be like that. How disillusioned or unmotivated we may be we need to make sure all our moral and business codes stand by us, how compliantly naïve or indecently principled we may be perceived it is important we raise the voice of concern when it is not right, how hopeless it may seem it is important we blow the whistle of integrity…, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow…… 

Don’t give up, speak up 

‘’Blues are the songs of despair, but gospel songs are the songs of hope." - Mahalia Jackson

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Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #4

thanks Sarah Elkins paradox paradox ..... :-)

Sarah Elkins

5 years ago #3

I am often puzzled by the priorities and judgments against "small fish" vs. large institutions. One would assume the auditors working on larger instutions with huge cash flow and even bigger impact on entire economies would take precedent over the audits of smaller organizations. Why in the world was the Three Cups of Tea author so demonized when some agents in large banks were completely let off the hook? Was it because people trusted the author/philanthropist and we have zero expectations of trust from our large banks? Thoughtful post here, Pascal Derrien.

Pascal Derrien

5 years ago #2

thanks Dean Owen , yeah I suppose SG had a few bad days at the office a while back :-)

Dean Owen

5 years ago #1

"I had in mind to talk about ethos pathos and logos and I sank pretty quickly in a sea of analogies and metaphors that led nowhere." I think we can all relate to that @Pascal Derrien. Turned out to be an awesome post ! (Except for the mention of my old firm Societe Generale) :(

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