Al Capone and cover-ups

The American gangster Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion today in 1931.

One could say that it wasn’t his original crimes that put him behind bars but his attempt to cover them up.

Many employees follow this pattern. They break a rule and try to get away with it by breaking another. That cover-up usually gets them terminated.

An interesting difference between Capone and our employees (there are many, of course) is in the comparative seriousness of the original violation and of the cover-up. For Capone, it was almost comical that he was sentenced to 11 years for tax evasion rather than for life for corruption, racketeering and murder. For our employees, it is often sad that they get terminated for covering up a minor conflict of interest or mistake, one they could have easily survived had they simply admitted to it.

Our policies, training and communications should aim not only to prevent mistakes and violations but also to prevent cover-ups. Cover-ups only make things worse.

Unless you are Capone.

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