Click here to preview the new Fast Company

Want to try out the new

If you’d like to return to the previous design, click the yellow button on the lower left corner.

The Corporate Conscience

Official ConscienceThere isn't one.

Corporations don't have a conscience, people do.

That means that every time you say, "It's just my job," or "My department has a policy," or "All I do is work here," what you've done is abdicated responsibility—to no one.

It's convenient and even comfortable to blame the anonymous actions of many working in concert on a evanescent brand or organization, but that starts you on an inevitable race to the bottom. Organizations have more power than ever before. They are better synchronized, faster, and possess more tools to change the economy and the people in it than ever before. And the only option available to the rest of us is for individuals to take responsibility (it's not given) for what they do and how they do it.

The very same tools that permit organizations to synchronize their efforts are now available to you and to me. I guess the question is: will we use that power to humanize the systems we've created?

PS It's not just about being a good citizen: when bad behavior comes back to hurt the company, it hurts you, too.

Reprinted from Seth's Blog

Seth Godin has written twelve books that have been translated into more than thirty languages. Every one has been a bestseller. His latest book, LINCHPIN, hit the Amazon top 10 on the first day it was published and became a New York Times bestseller. His company,, is ranked among the top 125 sites in the U.S. (by traffic) by Quantcast. Follow him at or on Twitter @ThisIsSethsBlog.

Add New Comment


  • ds0934

    I agree with Richards comments/sayings, however, having worked in various corporate environments for 25 years the one thing that has always been toughest is the constant pressure from the corporation to de-humanize everything. Most people that "beg for forgiveness" for just going ahead with their ideas either rise up or give up and leave. It all boils down to how receptive the culture is to new ideas.

  • Richard Geller

    A few things I was told that pretty much turned out to be true:
    "The corporation can be a peaceful place to be as long as you know what you can eat and what can eat you."

    "If you hope to accomplish anything, it's almost always better to ask for forgiveness than permission."

    "Over time, the ends toward which our collective efforts inside the corporation are being put generally turn out to be fairly disappointing...It's what wears us down in the end."

    "You can love the corporation, but it will never love you back."