Thoughts from the ECI Best Practices Forum

I spent the last two days in Dallas for the Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI) Fall Best Practices Forum. The topic was “Building a Respectful Workplace.”

I walked away with many concepts and ideas to explore. Here are a few:

  • Employees used to protest (strike) only for better wages and benefits. Now, they take to the streets to decry what their employers tolerate in the workplace (e.g. Google, McDonald’s, etc.). How much internal dialog took place before this boiled over? Did the companies listen? Did the companies feel they could just ignore the complaints? How should companies change to address these concerns before they spill into the public realm?
  • When asked what type of misconduct they observed in the last 12 months, employees consistently place abusive behavior in the top 3 list. So why don’t we ever see this risk on an ERM mitigation plan?
  • The more powerful the perpetrator of wrongdoing, the more likely s/he is to retaliate against the person reporting the behavior. Do we have a process in place to monitor retaliation by executives?
  • Incivility in the workplace increases misconduct. Diversity in the workplace increases civility. Can we thus argue that diversity reduces misconduct?
  • When you strongly disagree with someone, adopt a position of curiosity.
  • Our fear of conflict leads us to agree with the majority. What can we do to make people feel safe in holding a different opinion? What is the point of diversity if no one is willing to speak up?
  • Take this test to find out your implicit associations about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other topics:
  • The science shows that the psychopath “top performers” are actually not helping the organization reach its performance goals.
  • Every company has some leverage over a segment of society. Why not use it for good?
  • “A solution should not cost more than the problem.” Is this a valid argument only when you put your shareholders at the top of the list?
  • When having a difficult conversation, separate the people from the problem. Be soft on the people and hard on the problem.
  • When asking questions, decide if they are in service of the other or of you.

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