The importance of a dissenting opinion

Medium and large organizations should have a disciplinary review committee (DRC) to ensure that disciplinary actions proposed by supervisors and human resources are consistent and fair across the organization. The committee should comprise, perhaps among others, a senior business leader, a senior HR professional, legal counsel, and the ethics & compliance officer (ECO).

A flaw I see in many DRCs is the self-imposed requirement that their decisions be unanimous. Any member should be allowed to disagree with the votes of the majority. This is particularly important for the ECO, who often is the only committee member not part of the C-suite. This junior member of the committee must be encouraged to record his or her dissenting opinion, lest they feel pressured to go along with the more senior majority.

Organizations who employ ECOs charge them with an important task: to be the voice asking the question “Should we?” after everyone else has answered yes to the question “Can we?” In the minutes of a DRC meeting, that voice must be recorded. An organization willing to make part of its official records the dissenting opinion of its ECO is much more likely to arrive at the right decision.

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