Of Soccer, Death, and Corporate Ethics
The world was stunned recently by the death of a soccer official at the hands of a 17-year-old goalie. One single unsportsmanlike act created a cascade of devastation with two lives lost, and families and teams reeling in its wake. Companies face similar risks everyday - not necessarily death - but certainly the risk that one employee's misstep could lead to a devastating outcome. This all demonstrates why sportsmanship, and good "corporate sportsmanship," are so critical.
After Enron and Tyco, companies realized that the endeavor is not simply to comply, but to inject positive values into the corporate culture. MAPI companies are doing this everyday by focusing on values-based compliance and safety programs. These programs focus on integrity, speaking up, and everyone taking responsibility for their own actions as well as the actions of their peers. From the shopfloor to the C-suite, everyone is responsible for doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. If everyone is doing the right thing, compliance won't be an issue, and devastation can hopefully be averted.
Rockwell Automation and Navistar are two great examples of companies that today focus on an ethical corporate culture rather than simple compliance. Some lessons they've shared at our MAPI Council meetings about creating an ethical culture are to:
- Focus on doing the right things -- from simply showing up to work when expected, to filing correct expense reports, to reporting requests for bribes, and everything in between, if employees are continually encouraged to "do the right thing" they will, and legal compliance likely won't be a problem
- Speak up -- we all face times when something doesn't seem quite right, but we hesitate to speak up. Ethical companies encourage employees to speak up no matter the scenario. If something doesn't look right, say something. This not only helps identify problems, but it also empowers employees to know that everyone counts, and everyone's actions contribute to the betterment of the entire company.
- Training and Reinforcement are critical -- ethical companies use training to educate, listen and reinforce good behaviors. Annual trainings, augmented by regular events, awards, reports, contests, and other reminders help to reinforce that integrity is important at the company and to the leadership.
What it all boils down to is that good "corporate sportsmanship" is both the best offense and defense to promote personal and corporate integrity, and to decrease the risk of a devastating misstep. Much like the tragedy with the soccer referee and the goalie, the more we can all do to promote integrity, do the right thing and "be a good sport," the less likely it becomes that one person's miscue will lead to devastation.