Many people have heard of Janet Reno, former attorney general of the United States during the Clinton Administration. Few people have heard of Cheryl Broetje, the owner of a nearly one million-tree orchard in Eastern Washington. These two women are the subjects in the IBTE conversations for this issue.
In some ways, they are very different. Janet Reno is quiet, soft-spoken, and has a law degree from Harvard. Cheryl Broetje is outgoing and very animated when she talks about the people who work in her orchards. She has never been to college. But both are women of strong convictions and are passionate about those who can’t defend themselves. And both demonstrated a strong commitment to integrity.
Along with David Gautschi, dean of the Lally School of Management and Technology, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, we interviewed Ms. Reno at her home in Miami. When she made the statement, “America has become two cars in the garage, matching silver, everything just right. You can have a good quality of life with less,” it sounded like a general statement. Then she invited us back to her home for dinner, and we had a delightful conversation — while eating with mismatched silverware and inexpensive dishes. She lived what she said. The only sign of her being a former attorney general of the United States (who had connected with leaders around the world) was her high-backed chair with “Department of Justice” across the back. Rather than retire, she has chosen to pursue her passions for criminal justice reform, workforce education, health care, and the law and technology.
Cheryl Broetje was a keynote speaker at Seattle Pacific University and also talked with my business-ethics students. Kenman Wong (a senior ethics professor) and I conversed with her while she was on campus. Her enthusiasm and candor made a lasting impression on my students — and her passion for the vulnerable was infectious. Ms. Broetje has placed herself and her family in the position to truly understand that those who do the work in the orchards are people, not just workers.
In addition to the usual book reviews, Gerard Beenen reviews a lecture given by Enron whistleblower Sherron Watkins, in Pittsburgh. He summarizes one area of her discussion. He also got agreement from her to have a conversation for Ethix following the trial for Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling that starts early next year.
We were surprised that none of our Forum responses touched on the concern we have regarding targeted Internet pricing based on purchase profiles. We believe there is significant potential for discrimination in this kind of pricing.
Next issue our feature conversation will be with Mike Volkema, chairman of Herman Miller Inc., a company that is almost always near the top of lists of the most admired companies and best companies to work for.