As you’ve no doubt read in the headlines this past week, the ousting of Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves is yet another example in the long list of high-profile executives reportedly using power, authority and intimidation to commit unsavory and egregious acts against their employees.  According to a recent Forbes article the tally is up to 701 individuals who have been held accountable for their actions.

Moonves is accused by 13 women of sexual misconduct as reported in a New Yorker expose by Ronan Farrow, the journalist and writer best known for his work in bringing to light allegations against film executive Harvey Weinstein that spurned the #MeToo movement.

Over the past year, the #MeToo movement has given power in numbers to the victims of workplace sexual harassment and disrespectful workplaces.  This is not just a “Hollywood” problem, the long list of bad actors uncovered has touched virtually every industry.

But the consequences do not end with the resignation of a long-standing executive. Pending an internal investigation, Moonves stands to take with him a $120 million severance package if it cannot be proved that he violated the organization’s anti-harassment policies.  Other employees have reported experiencing some kind of sexual misconduct, retaliation or discrimination.

This underscores the importance of respectful workplace and a strong organizational culture – both of which are supported and affirmed by a high-quality ethics & compliance program.

From a compliance perspective, bad actors are always a problem. In fact, in organizations large and small, outliers surface in even the strongest cultures. In the world of #MeToo organizational risk mitigation begins and ends with the implementation of best practices to create a respectful workplace, standardized investigative review and unbiased accountability.

How do you succeed in keeping your organization respectful?

It is the job of the ethics & compliance team to ensure that their organization, from top-to-bottom, has:

  • Clear, precise policies;
  • Leveraging company core values;
  • Training & raising awareness;
  • Supporting Equal Opportunity & Performance Management;
  • Identifying high-risk individuals;
  • Safe, confidential steps in place to report acts that violate company policies;
  • Consistent review of all wrongdoing and misconduct; and,
  • Accountability when wrongdoing occurs.

When allegations of misconduct occur, there should be no question as to whether the ethics & compliance program offered safe recourse for employees. There should also be no gray area or room for interpretation in how violations are defined.

Want a hands-on workshop in keeping your workplace successful? Join us in Dallas this November for our Fall Best Practice Forum, Building a Respectful Workplace. Expert speakers and leading minds give keynote addresses, interactive clinics and more to ensure your culture and ethics & compliance program stays strong.

By: Brad Fulton