Making the newspaper test real

When we provide business ethics training, we tell employees to behave as if their doing would be featured on the front page of their local newspaper.

But then, when one of them is terminated for wrongdoing, we refrain from sharing the case with other employees. We invoke the fear of lawsuits, the need to negotiate a separation agreement, privacy concerns, or the distraction of having other employees discuss the matter.

These reasons are sometimes valid but they should be used exceptionally. Sharing is educating employees and protecting those who don’t recognize the pitfalls. Sharing is deterring other employees from doing the same thing. Sharing is an act of transparency that forces you to commit to be better. Sharing is an act of vulnerability that builds trust.

There is no need to use real names or locations when sharing these stories – cases can be anonymized. Of course, a few people will connect the dots. But it’s often a small price to pay in exchange for all the benefits.

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