In the recent article: Company culture essential to strong ethics and compliance program, by Mekhala Roy, Mekhala’s research pointed out that there are several reasons why employees engage in unethical behavior.
- Financial worries
- Pressure to meet sales targets
- Being unaware what they are doing is wrong or not knowing where to seek help is needed
- “I don’t care about the company”attitude.
This tells me that whatever companies are providing in ethics training/education isn’t enough and not working. This goes beyond having an ethics hotline, which research shows, people aren’t sure there will be anonymity and won’t experience retaliation. This goes to heart of matter that ALL employees, CEO down the line must embrace the value of ongoing ethics education for all, no exceptions. This and only this will truly “set the tone at the top.”
What has been the “tone at the top” at Wells Fargo? ITT Tech, Volkswagen, GM, Epipen, etc.? The true test of values and ethics in an organization is the behavior of those in leadership. The reason being that people listen with their eyes and not their ears. What one does says so much more than what one says.
What has leadership of the above mentioned companies modeled? Here is the moral spiral, i.e. one issue leads to another, and then another, and then another. No decision is made in isolation. Hopefully, fines will only be the beginning of a price to pay for unethical/illegal allowed practices. Maybe Senator Elizabeth Warren is right in that this type of leadership is gutless!