NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I confess I'm a glass-half-full businessman and adviser.
I have found optimism to be one of the leading factors for surviving, let alone thriving, in uncertain and down times like these. Another success factor is being surrounded by and doing business with good, decent people and reliable companies.
Every day that gets a little tougher to do when you see the headlines about major business leaders doing something stupid, illegal or unethical.
As an investor, employee or customer, you have come to trust brands and companies and their leaders for things like quality, safety, dependability and certainly honoring laws and abiding by codes of decency and conduct.News like this breaks our confidence and security:
- WalMart's (WMT - Get Report) Mexico FCPA is facing a bribery investigation
- UBS (UBS) will pay $26.6 million to resolve charges that its Puerto Rico-based brokerage unit propped up the price of the funds in the secondary market
- Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. (NWS - Get Report) empire faces troubles over phone tapping and bribery of law-enforcement and political officials
- Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam has been jailed for insider trading
- Merck (MRK - Get Report) agreed to pay almost $1 billion in 2011 for deceptive marketing of Vioxx
- Venerable commercial and investment banks like Citi (C), JPMorgan (JPM), Bank of America (BAC - Get Report) and Goldman Sachs (GS) have all settled claims with the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding subprime mortgage investments and are in seemingly never-ending SEC investigations over suspected violations
- Audits are working
- Everyday people have had enough and are becoming whistleblowers
- Even the rich and powerful can't hide forever if they're corrupt
- The judicial and regulatory systems are working bit by bit
- Internal checks and balances are working
- Penalties are becoming more severe
- Company boards are stepping up oversight of CEO conduct
- C-suites are stepping up their own self-awareness and across-the-company awareness of behavior
- Companies are revisiting their values statements, policies, procedures, training and processes to pursue with governance, risk, compliance and ethics excellence
- And investors continue to have access to reliable sources when conducting due diligence in researching companies