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Ask Dave

Loyalty and character

Dave responds to a note from someone who says employees don't owe loyalty to their employers. If you guessed that Dave disagrees, you're right. In the process, he explains why things like loyalty and character still matter.

QUESTION: Dave receives a note in which the writer says that when people work for a company, they do not owe the company loyalty. As you might imagine, Dave feels the writer has a lot to learn about things such as loyalty, character and ethics.

ANSWER: That makes me want to be an old man and say something like, “That’s what’s wrong with this generation!” I want to say something like that to an idiot response like this. Let me give you a story.

My grandfather passed away many years ago. He worked for Alcoa Aluminum in Alcoa, Tennessee, for 38 years. Once he went into my mom and dad’s home, and my mom pulled out a roll of Reynolds Wrap—the competing aluminum foil to Alcoa aluminum foil. She bought the wrong brand. He ripped it out of her hands, threw it in the trash and said, “Never buy from the enemy!”

That’s the kind of loyalty people had in those days to the company they worked for—the company that took care of them and fed them. Now, I understand that many companies today aren’t as loyal to people as they should be. I get that part. But that’s irrelevant to how you have your ethics. Your ethics are you’re loyal to who pays you, and if you can’t be loyal to who pays you then you need to change to someone you can be loyal to. That’s called character!