Would you rather be a fearless pirate of the sea or a pioneering cow woman of the West?” (0:20) CONVERGE17

This question was presented to Hui Chen, former Department of Justice (DOJ) Compliance Counsel in the Fraud section.

This video had to be paused as I experienced an influx of emotional biased reactions. Her answer was not something I wanted to hear until I considered some of my past declarations based on my values and the subject of values and the ethics we claim to have.

Several marketers and HR professionals impress the importance of our professional branding. What is our brand, do we know? What values do we purport to hold and do we show what that looks like before we tell people what we think they should be doing?

As I journeyed down the path of putting some of my educational skills to practical use with business planning, the first question asked has been, “What are your values?”

  • What are the values of the project?
  • What are the values of the business?

Everyone has responded that they do not desire for their values to be empty words.

That process to work with people and entities that have a goal has proven to be a tough question to address as we pushed forward with some kind of plan that resonated the message of why their product or service should be considered.


When it came time to talk about a Code of Business Conduct, the frequent mindset is associated with legal jargon that is a barrier to business goals. “That’s the stuff for corporations and they have that for the legal coverage. Nobody really cares about that stuff, it’s just common sense stuff that’s a guideline.” That was an interesting perspective.


Several small business publications discuss the importance of creating business ethics and investors will look for the message of the social responsibility that an organization stands for. Investors want to know:

  • Will this entity generate a return on my investment?
  • Will this group protect my vested interests?
  • If or when there are business barriers or difficulties, will they be in the life raft with me or will they throw me overboard to the sharks?
  • Can I believe that they are who they say they are?

Society Products Manager at IEEE Dena Hoffman mentions these large platforms and they are a great example of why these guidelines should be important to us as a part of our organization initiatives.

IEEE Collabratec responsibility questions by Dena Hoffman
IEEE Collabratec responsibility questions by Dena Hoffman
Legal representatives from three of the largest social media platforms on the planet (Facebook, Google, and Twitter) have been called to testify in USA Congressional hearings.
  1. Platform or News Agency: Are Google, Twitter, Facebook, and other “social media” merely a platform or are they “news agencies” who can and should control their platform’s content, including posts and advertising?
  2. Big Data’s Role: These platforms have claimed to have the most sophisticated algorithms to deliver content and ads based upon a user’s interests and activities. How or should they be using big data and their algorithms to monitor or control “fake news”, posts, and ads?
  3. Standards: Should their be universal standards?

~ Dena Hoffman IEEE Society Products Manager

Should there be universal standards? I believe there should be. However, it would also be good for technology professionals to know the difference between knowing the code and living the code. Maybe we spend too much time focusing on “what” we can do when we can attend to “why” we are doing what we are doing. Maybe we need to spend more effort on understanding our biases so we can begin to address these questions. If we are not willing to embrace self-introspection to understand our biases while justifying our complicit choices, how can we be successful with the direction of technology?

What would you rather be? A fearless pirate or a pioneering cow person? I tend to agree with Hui Chen’s sentiment because at least the pirates have a code and they work together as a community towards a destination. The code can always be discussed to figure out where changes should be made within the group as they learn their lessons and make their mistakes.