By Adam Turteltaub
This coming Sunday, April 15, baseball will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day. It is now an annual event, commemorating the day in 1947 when Robinson first took the field as a Brooklyn Dodger. Every player on every team will wear his number 42 across their back.
For those of us in business, it’s a day to think differently about doing the right thing. Most of the time business ethics is a choice about what we won’t do: We won’t pay bribes. We won’t rip off the government. We won’t deal with suspicious business partners. We won’t do something that is legal but morally troubling.
The story of Jackie Robinson, and Branch Rickey who hired him, shows that business ethics can also be about what we will do: We will reject racial barriers. We will embrace diversity. We will do what our industry says cannot be done. And we will do what’s right, even if there are forces aligned against us.
It may not be easy. It will likely take great planning and care. And it will take the right people to make it happen. Jackie Robinson was selected to be the first not just because of his skills on the field but also because of his extraordinary character.
The Dodgers thrived after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier. So can we, if we have the courage to recognize that doing the right thing isn’t just about avoiding a problem. It can also be about seizing an opportunity to make the world better, and, ultimately, the bottom line as well.
Have a good Jackie Robinson Day.