How Do You Deal With Ethics Issues As A Startup CEO?

I was walking around the office late one Friday afternoon. I was chatting with everyone, cubicle by cubicle, about was going on. Then I got to “Chris’” cubicle, and I noticed something on his computer.

Chris was looking at porn.

Picture: Depositphotos

Chris quickly switched from the porn website to another website. I went back to my office, and I thought about what I should do.

It was instantly obvious.

I called Chris, and I asked him to come to my office. One minute later Chris was in my office.

“Close the door,” I said.

Then I continued. In a very calm voice I said, “I noticed what you had on your computer, and we just can’t have that here.

“If it happens again, we will have no choice but to let you go. Do you understand?”

Chris said, “I do understand.”

“Okay, then get back to work.”

You can choose to ignore the small ethical challenges or you can do the right thing.

It would have been so easy just to ignore what Chris was doing. It was just porn. Boys will be boys, right?

Looking at porn on your computer at work may not sound like a big deal, but it is a big deal.

Your culture isn’t something you can just turn on and off.

Who knows who in the company would have been offended because of what Chris was doing?

You can bet that wasn’t the first time Chris had surfed the web at work looking at porn. This was just the first time Chris was caught.

He knew I saw him. If I did nothing, then Chris would have felt comfortable doing it again.

You, the CEO, have a responsibility to keep your workplace a place everyone feels comfortable in. The second you look the other way is when your culture suffers forever.

Your culture is your most important asset.

You may be surprised to hear this, but your company culture is the best indicator of whether your company is going to be successful. It doesn’t matter whether it was an engineer like Chris or your cofounder, you always have to take action. You need to protect your company culture at all costs.

That’s why can’t ever look the other way when you know something is wrong. You are the CEO. And, if you’re ethically challenged, how can you expect anyone else in your company not to be ethically challenged?

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I work with startup CEOs to help them grow their businesses . I built several businesses from $0 to >$100M. Learn more at

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