Equals?

Just received this mail from a software vendor with whom my company has a business relationship:

Winning with Integrity

I am writing to you today about one of the fundamental cornerstones of our relationship and business model. Given the current uncertainty in the world economy and the intense competition in the marketplace, it is important that our responses and game plans include our business standard of “Winning with Integrity”.

We all face daily pressures and must make decisions involving judgment on conservative versus aggressive action. In all of these decisions, we must operate with unambiguous integrity 100% of the time. Without a commitment to transparency, honesty, and truthfulness, we risk losing a platform for growth along with all credibility. It is my belief that profitable growth is not possible without a commitment to integrity in everything we do.

So with this in mind, please consider the following:

Winning with Integrity must be our mode of operation within VENDOR and each Business Partner as well as with each of our respective employees. Therefore, I ask you to engage with your employees on a periodic basis to refresh their priorities in this regard and provide the resources and education necessary. We can help.

If you or your employees are not sure about a questionable action or transaction, either ask for help from VENDOR or do not go forward with the questionable activity.
If a VENDOR representative asks you or your employees to do something that does not appear to be in line with our objectives of Winning with Integrity or with our Code of Conduct even though they may say that it is, please raise this with your country or geographic VENDOR leader or directly with me.

You may also contact us at EMAIL if you believe that there has been a violation of proper business conduct.

In the meantime, please take a few moments to re-read our Code of Conduct.

All the best in 2009!

Now, I don’t know about you, but this condescending little note doesn’t make this vendor sound like an organisation that treats my company as an equal, nor as if they truly trust us to act in an ethical manner.

To me it sounds as if they are:
a) treating me and my organisation as if we were employed directly by their business
b) assuming that partners owe our living to this vendor’s products and services
c) assuming we partners act unethically as a matter of course

Given that this came as a mass mailing to this vendor’s 1000s of partners, I simply cannot believe that they thought this was a good idea.

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!