Jul 02

What’s become of doing well by doing good?


July 2
What’s
more important, preventing brain cancer or selling more cell phones? You’d
think the answer is obvious, but not so for the telecommunications industry.
Allow me to explain.

A
recent Swedish study that followed young people who began using cell phones as
teenagers reported a whopping 400 percent increase in brain tumors! That
disturbing report, along with similar ones, has prompted San Francisco to become
the first city in America to pass legislation making cell phone retailers
display
radiation levels. That’s a biggie. Now, every Bay-area consumer will be able to
see how much radiation his or her cell phone emits
before making the
purchase. And, that does not sit well with telecommunications types.

According
to a Maureen Dowd column, different cell phone models emit anywhere from
0.2 watts per kilogram of body tissue to 1.6, which is the legal limit. That
may not seem like much, but consider this. Have you noticed how our nation’s
kids have their cell phones positively glued to their ears all day long? As a
result, they’re constantly bombarding their brains with radiation. In fact,
when one considers how many hours our nation’s kids collectively use their cell
phones each day, one can appreciate why the S.F. board acted the way it did.

Unless,
of course, one works for the telecommunications trade group, the CTIA.

Not
wanting to be painted as yet another big, uncaring industry a la Wall Street,
oil or tobacco, the CTIA warned San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom they’d invoke
‘the nuclear option’ and come down on him and his city ‘like a ton of bricks’
if the legislation were passed.  How? Months before the bill passed,
Newsom says he received a disturbing letter forwarded by the local Marriott
hotel that had been selected to host the CTIA convention in October. In the
note, the CTIA warned Marriott they would cancel the event if the legislation
was passed. Nice. They also told Marriott that they’d been in contact with
Apple, Cisco, Oracle and other big, SF-area companies who are involved with the
trade group, and urged them to yank their events from San Francisco as well.
Yikes! Since when did telecommunications companies start acting like the Mafia?

Sure
enough, once the legislation was passed, the CTIA said it would relocate all
future exhibitions to another venue. In one fell swoop, the City by the Bay
lost an event that annually attracted 68,000 exhibitors and attendees and generated
$80 million in business. Talk about
not doing good in order to do well.

The
big loser isn’t San Francisco, it’s America’s youth. The telecommunications
industry doesn’t want Americans to know about the radiation levels in its cell
phones, so it’s punishing anyone who tries to raise a caution flag.

I’m
amazed the CTIA’s heavy-handed scare tactics haven’t generated more adverse
publicity. To say their Tony Soprano-like strong-arming reflects poorly on the trade
group (and its member companies) is like saying the pedophilia scandals have
negatively impacted the Church’s reputation. It’s a no-brainer (sorry). So, how
come no one is speaking up and condemning the action?

Is
it just me or is big business becoming ever more ruthless in putting profits
before ethics. I just hope our kids’ addiction to cell phones doesn’t produce a
simultaneous rise in brain cancer. If it does, though, watch for the CTIA to
turn to the Big Tobacco play book for best practices in delaying, denying and
obfuscating. The industry has deep pockets and will spend what it must to
protect its profit margins. And, as the San Francisco fracas shows, the
industry is willing to hurt anyone who dares get in the way of profits.

What’s
become of doing good by doing well?

Nov 08

Yup, we’ve got those

A Randstad USA poll of nearly 2,500 U.S. workers found gossip and ‘reply-to-all’ e-mails were the biggestGossip_2
office nuisances. No surprise there. What I did find interesting, though, were such other ‘irksome’ things as:

– Unwashed dishes in kitchen sinks (that drives our receptionist over the edge)
– Potent smells like perfume, food or smoke (occasionally a pungent Middle Eastern takeout lunch will totally disrupt our office. And, I used to work for a guy who lit a cherry tobacco pipe every workday at 5pm. Talk about overpowering. Ugh.)
– Speaker phones (when I did my job swap for a day, I literally couldn’t concentrate at times because a certain someone was sooooo loud on her speakerphone)
– Loud talking (we have a few prime candidates)

As the number one ‘reply-to-all’ e-mail offender of all time, I thought I’d also list a few office pet peeves not found on the list:

– People who come into the office sick as dogs and summarily infect others
– People who use their blackberries during management meetings
– people who neglect the courtesy flush in the men’s room (now known generically as "pulling a Bray" within our office)

The other interesting finding in the Randstad survey (btw, who or what is a Randstad?) is the worker complacency about such transgressions: only one in four would confront a loudmouth; only 33 percent would say something to a rumormonger and only one in four would complain about reply-to-all e-mails.

Maybe working alongside passive-aggressive employees should be another pet peeve?