Bingo Cards. Perks. Business Ethics

Don’t Let Perks & Perception Define You

Let’s talk about perks and perception.

My 5-member condo board voted 2-0, two abstaining, to have a 2-person pilot project to test the process for allowing co-owners to install small washer/dryer machines in their units. Now, a lot of co-owners have been pushing hard for these tiny, energy-efficient, low-water-usage, washer/dryer machines (note: I am not one of them). So guess who gets the honor of being first in line?

Bingo! The two board members who abstained on the vote.

I ran my condo board for six years. I used to say, as the go-to officer, that I was “first among equals” when it came to  directors. I also said that our core responsibility was to act in the best interest of all owners. When it came to vendors offering me a sweetheart deal in return for access to co-owners, I always said NO. Once I even negotiated a deal with a local gym to get a group discount if enough building residents signed up. Once they did, the gym reneged on the deal and offered just me a discount. Not only did I say NO, but I wrote a letter to all the people who had signed up to explain why the deal was off.

Perception matters. 

Here’s what I know about the laundry machines:

  • Lots of owners want them.
  • The board wants to approve  a select few (presumably one or two) vendors to sell and install them.
  • One (or two) of these potential vendors are going to install washer/dryer units for the people making that decision.

What could possibly go wrong?

You aren’t supposed to give yourself perks. That’s why special dining rooms for executives and board retreats at luxury resorts tend to rub many employees the wrong way. Or why free, reserved parking at the airport for Members of Congress irks constituents.

It would have been so easy to do a drawing among interested not-elected-to-the-board co-owners and select a couple at random to do a test run through the purchase and installation process.

I’m not saying that anything untoward is going on here. But why beg the question?

Photo by Robert Banh (Flickr).

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Comments ( 6 )

  • D'ellis

    Agreed, Daria!

  • I have been seeing this kind of behaviour right from the college days(where I saw this in action during setting up college festivals). I do not understand why people are ready to lose their integrity so fast just for small gifts. My country stands low on corruption because of these petty interests. That a few people are able to subvert the interest of many(provided that interest was correct to start with) is cutting into the fabrics of democracy in many countries.
    But even private organizations are not immune to it.

    • Hi Ashvini,

      Well, I know I’m not willing to lose my integrity over a washer-dryer. 🙂 I agree with you, though, it’s all the same slippery slope.

      For the record, the U.S. may do better on the corruption scale because of what the scale measures–but the ability of 1 billionaire to fund a candidate is not recipe for “we the people.”

  • Andy Stuarts

    This is such a great post. I enjoyed reading it.
    Wrong perceptions often lead to destruction of one’s personality. One should never let perks and perceptions define themselves.

    Thanks for this wonderful post.


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