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The Timeless Wisdom of Horton

In any business, but especially for nonprofits, where building trust with stakeholders is a crucial element to success, having an ethical business culture is imperative. It is why I wanted to include a post about ethics as part of our Red String story, but finding a simple way to write about it took a bit more thought and luck.

Recently, as I was milling around my parent's house, I found an old set of Dr. Seuss books that my mom had bought for my brother and me when we were kids. As I perused the titles, I came across the book, Horton Hears a Who!.

Now, for those who may not remember the story, it is about an elephant named Horton who discovers a city called Whoville on a small speck of dust. At the beginning, Horton is the only character who can hear the Whos, and he vows to protect them as he places the dust speck on a clover for safe keeping. Nobody else in the forest believes Horton when he tells them that there are people living on this dust speck until Horton gets all of the Whos in Whoville to make as much noise as they can. They make as much noise as possible, but it’s not until the very last little Who, the littlest of them all, joins in on the noise-making, that the other animals finally hear the Whos and agree to help Horton keep them safe.

The moral of this story is very plainly stated; “a person’s a person, no matter how small,” and that one person can make all the difference.

By now, you may be asking yourself what does this have to do with building a culture of ethics and respect.

The story teaches us the difference that one lone voice can have and the importance of respect and care for everyone no matter what or "Who". In business ethics terms, this might be stated as "seek to understand before being understood, and then, and only then, act". Embedded in these words lie the concepts of respect, listening, speaking up, building trust, fairness, and accountability.

This is the very essence of business ethics.

Creating a culture of ethics and respect is fundamentally about who you are and what you want to be. It is found in the actions, words, symbols, stories, and values that flow through an organization, from the boardroom to the mail room and back again, and this expression doesn’t just instruct everyone to do the right thing, it encourages them to do so. The culture empowers their actions, and their actions bring the culture to life.

At Red String, our stance on ethical business conduct is simple: do the right thing, every time, no exceptions. While each employee and volunteer is accountable for upholding the Red String Code of Conduct, ensuring that our values remain foundational to our work, and following all applicable laws, regulations and company policies, Red String advances its ethics and compliance initiatives beyond our walls to everyone we work with.

Only by doing the right thing will we be able to earn trust and build partnerships that will propel us to reach our goals, aspirations, and purpose.

Learn more: ethics@redstring

(to be continued)

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