Dear Ethix – Issue 37

Email for Business

I enjoyed your article, “Making Email Work for Business.” You (and those you quote) rightly note the problematic tendency to view email as a “personal productivity tool” rather than the “repository of corporate data” that it is. In fact, as you illustrate from your own experience at Boeing, employees tend to write emails without realizing that their text, even though in email and not on letterhead, is still a representation of the company.

As a relatively simple but potentially significant corrective, I wonder if the following might help. What if someone were to create an email program that integrated the company’s letterhead in its user interface? In other words, what if every time an employee sat down to tap off an email, the screen actually showed him typing his text onto a piece of company letterhead? The email need not actually be sent with letterhead; but simply by having all email typed on a corporate machine imaged on letterhead might simply but clearly cause the writer to feel the weight of what he is doing: typing in the name of the company.

Just an idea. Thanks for a fascinating publication!

Michael LeFebvre
Airdrie, Scotland

I enjoyed the commentary on making email work for business. But in your “Email Reliability” section, you mentioned one solution is to request a receipt from the addressee. However, you should know that some email clients have the simple option to never send a return receipt, whether or not you are asked for it. In Outlook Express, this option can be checked by going to Tools > Options > Receipts.

A Techie
Boise, ID

Thanks to Dennis Bakke

I was introduced to your organization through a friend a couple of weeks ago and just received my first copy of the publication. Thank you.

The Bakke interview was good — very good and thought provoking. I immediately passed it on to my daughter and son-in-law to stimulate their thinking about the business they are running. I would like your permission to post the interview to our website for others to see. Let me know if this would be okay.

John Nunnikhoven
Chester, VT

Editor’s Note: We are glad you enjoyed the intriguing ideas of Dennis Bakke. Rather than your copying the article to your site, however, we suggest you put a link to the conversation at The conversations from recent past issues, as well as the other articles, remain on our site under the archives section.

ServiceMaster Ethics Award?

I just read the article “The Market Made Me Do It” by David W. Gill on your website at

It appears Mr. Gill did not do his homework; or he judges a man by his words, not by his well-documented misdeeds. If IBTE does not support the “ethics” practiced by C. William Pollard and ServiceMaster, I certainly hope you will reevaluate the assessment of C. William Pollard and ServiceMaster and post your findings accordingly.

Carla Virga
Yuba, CA

Editor’s Note: We have not investigated your claims and so cannot comment on the alleged bad practices. However, it is rare to find a company with a great record for its ethical practices, including its treatment of employees, and not find problem areas or detractors. ServiceMaster, under the leadership of its recently retired founder Bill Pollard, has received many honors for its ethical practices. We will continue to highlight examples of companies that show by their commitment and practices that they value ethics, recognizing the risk in doing so.