I have a natural tendency to muse about esoteric things like “acceptability”. Rules exist for good reason – social functioning, law-keeping, prevention of total anarchy. However, as we in South Africa well know what is legal isn’t always ethical – apartheid being the most obvious case in point.
There are so many levels of acceptability that are forever shifting, and indeed differ across the world. Relationships between different races used to be absolutely forbidden – in some places it is still viewed as socially unacceptable. George Cluney gets a thumbs up for dating a much younger woman. Demi Moore gets snide comments when she dates a much younger man. Cross-religious marriage is a hot debate point in some cultures – even across different parts of Christianity.
Perhaps some of the ‘rules of acceptability’ are followed simply because they’re there, not because they continue to serve any useful function? In running our companies, what rules are we following slavishly when it might behove us to review them? For how much longer will it be acceptable to follow the rule of maximising shareholder financial value in the short-term, while the cracks in people, society and our environment become chasms?
Shareholders are people too: maybe its time we engaged with them more deeply to see what they truly think of “the rules”?.