Workplace like Country Song

Winnipeg Free Press, January 26, 2013 | Go to article overview

Workplace like Country Song


Too much lyin', cheatin' going on

I don't ever recall paying much attention to changes and growth in our English vocabulary, but I was surprised at how quickly new words were created after the Lance Armstrong confession spilled over to the news waves. These new words, doprah, liestrong and livewrong, will stay with us for some time and will continue to be a symbol of the deep corruption seemingly found in the area of cycling sports.

While the Armstrong story is said to be the biggest lie in sports history, it's by no means the only story of personal or corporate corruption. For instance, many readers will remember the American energy firm, Enron Corp., whose CEO along with his executive team engaged in corporate fraud and corruption resulting in bankruptcy and the loss of 20,000 jobs.

Not only that, but the corruption stretched over to the accounting firm of Arthur Anderson, which at the time was considered one of the "big five" auditing, tax and consulting firms. The firm surrendered its licence to practice and voluntarily dissolved, leaving more employees out on the street.

At the time in 2001, Enron quickly became the poster child for corporate fraud and it also led to investigations into the accounting practices of audit firms. This in turn led to American legislation that created new standards for public company accounting and investor protection. At the same time, while it takes years to bring things to court, many of the executives involved in the Enron and other corporate scandals over the past few years are spending many of their remaining years in jail.

Yet, that's not the point. The point is that many people in business and sport continue to lie and cheat to get ahead. And a second point is that society is not going to stand for it anymore.

Government, too, has been aggressively pursuing strategies such as new legislation to prevent corporate fraud and corruption. New legislation was recently created to protect individuals known as whistleblowers who expose corporate corruption. As well, business schools across the country and corporations themselves are engaging in ethics training for staff.

Human-resource professionals on the other hand have been busy helping their employers develop a code of ethics, an organization structure to support ethical workplaces as well as policies, procedures and confidential complaint procedures that encourage employee reporting.

Initially, steps toward erasing corruption from our workplaces took a punitive and directive approach while today, organizations see additional benefits in creating an ethical work environment. The following specific benefits of creating an ethical workplace are outlined below:

Positive public image -- as seen by recent events, it takes years to build a strong positive public image but it only takes minutes for it to be destroyed. Organizations that pay attention to their image, build a positive reputation and ensure corporate consistency build consumer trust.

Effective recruitment and retention -- employees are attracted to organizations where they'll be treated with respect and know their contributions will be valued. …

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