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NextGen Magazine


Is an Ethics Scandal About to Explode in Your Company?

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Dec 18, 2017
Lying Man

Of course your company and its leadership is completely above board and would never get caught up in anything close to an ethics scandal. But what about other companies? How can you tell when a company's about to make headlines for corruption, fraud or some other breach of ethical principles? An article in the Harvard Business Review examined the thoughts of 23 different experts in corporate malfeasance and found that there were some common threads: 

* There is a sense of urgency and fear, where people need to do everything possible for the company to survive, including perhaps fraud. 

* The team is isolated from the company as a whole, whether in terms of geography or information, and so has less oversight from top leadership. 

* The organization is so complex that it's difficult for anyone to be held singularly accountable, which provides a cover of plausible deniability for unethical acts. 

* There is a culture of "success equals impunity." If success is achieved through less-than-legitimate means, which makes other parts of the company think it's okay since they got results. 

* There is a large degree of in-group language that can serve as euphemisms for things that would sound less savory when said explicitly. 

While none of these things alone means your company is dangling on the precipice, a combination of these factors might be cause for concern.