From Peter Hopper, VP, Account Services, Palio
I was told many, many years ago – it might have been my uncle – that in the old days on a submarine in the close confines of a submerged vessel shared by dozens of others, on that occasion if you “broke wind” you were obligated to raise your hand and take responsibility. There really was little to be gained in any attempt to dismiss or deny that an offense had occurred, nor was it in the spirit of the task at hand – patrolling deep under water, depending upon each other to do your job because lives were quite literally at stake – to do anything less than raise your hand, take responsibility and move on, perhaps a little more mindful of your shared circumstances.
Accountability. What a thought.
Over the past few years in the public arena, the very idea of accountability has been visibly shaken. In its place, finger pointing, hyperbole, abject denial is more and more the common response – from deficits to bailouts, healthcare to gun control, profits to spending. The list goes on. The arguments are steadfast, stubborn and divisive. There is no sense of middle ground or common ground or common good. The accountability gap just grows wider, and wider. And no voice is raised above the din to slap folks upside the head for a reality check: no one has all the answers, and all too often singular ideas are mired in self-interest. Rather, I maintain that the concept argued by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes almost 100 years ago still stands up to the test, that the marketplace of ideas brings forth the best ideas. Discussion. Dissent. Argument. And a whittling away at the fringes to arrive at a core concept in the best interest of the majority. Perhaps even enlightenment.
I was at my doctor’s office earlier this week and we had a brief conversation about his business and my business. The responsibility of taking care of people’s mental and physical well being, his role certainly on a much, much higher plane than mine. I told him about the excerpts from a recent speech made by a GSK executive, Deirdre Connelly, president of North America pharmaceuticals for GSK. Her core message reflected on how our industry may have “lost its way.” She noted, with exceptional examples, how the pharma industry has done a great deal of good, and one would think be held in high regard as one of the greatest contributors to health in our society. Yet, a recent Harris poll reveals that only 11% of the public believes the pharmaceutical industry is generally honest and trustworthy.
She went on to say that the business-to-business competitive selling model may be OK for other industries, “…but we do not sell chocolate or cars. We bring life-altering and life-saving medicines to patients. Society holds our interactions with our customers – healthcare providers and payers – to a higher standard. And it should. Society expects our business to be conducted openly and transparently and in a way that does not create even a perception of inappropriate influence.”
Ms. Connelly openly admits to GSK’s contribution to fueling the fire of distrust from prior transgressions, and then bravely outlines a new path forward based on four core values: focus on the best interest of the patient, transparency, integrity and respect.
Do the right thing for the right reasons. Serve a greater good. And success will follow.
So, in your life, in the industry you work in and the community you live in, are you willing to raise your hand?
Palio is a full-spectrum global pharmaceutical and consumer advertising, marketing, and communications agency that excels in brand creation and specializes in brand strategy, product launches, global marketing, and digital and integrated media.