It was just over a year ago when I wrote a blog called The Cost of Blowing the Whistle. In the study cited in that blog, they found that “the career incentives against revealing the fraud are stricter for employees than for any other group. ... Consequences to being a whistleblower include distancing and retaliation from fellow workers and friends, personal attacks on one's character during the course of the protracted dispute, and the need to change one's career.”
And then came Harvey Weinstein. And then a parade of other offenders, and millions of women (and men) stood up and said #METOO and they told their stories. They named names. And the tides shifted from retaliation to compassion and, hopefully, toward justice. To be clear, the shift is not complete, but the momentum is clear. And as Martin Luther King Jr said, “the moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice.”
Then last month I blogged about the #METOO movement and, although I don’t regret my words or thoughts in that blog even one little bit, what I do regret is missing maybe a bigger point. I believed then and now that the best defense against the #METOO movement is to not harass. But that to some may paint the #METOO movement as punitive, and it is not. It is a voice for the voiceless. It is powerful. It is positive. And it is right.
In that blog, I discussed how to give a voice to the voiceless in the corporate world – with anonymous compliance hotlines and case management solutions. That’s not everything, culture has to change too, but it is a big step, a corporate commitment towards empowering their own employees with a voice that is heard, respected and investigated.
Now in today’s news we see an example that simply would not have happened only a few short years ago. A few years ago when allegations against a senior executive at a company like Ford would have been denied, swept under the rug and the reporter would have been outed and shunned.
But not yesterday. According to reports from the AP and others, Ford Motor said the head of its core North American business, Raj Nair, has left the car company following allegations of inappropriate behavior.
A Ford source said the company had recently received information through an anonymous employee tip line and conducted an investigation that found Nair's behavior was "inconsistent with the company’s code of conduct."
“We made this decision after a thorough review and careful consideration,” Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett said in a statement. “Ford is deeply committed to providing and nurturing a safe and respectful culture and we expect our leaders to fully uphold these values.”
Nair replied in a statement, “I sincerely regret that there have been instances where I have not exhibited leadership behaviors consistent with the principles that the company and I have always espoused.”
That’s a big step from Mad Men and big statement from Ford. I respect that. I also respect the process they followed.
So I looked back and thought about Bob Dylan when he wrote:
Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly aging
Please get outta’ the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a–changin’
J Rollins is the co-founder and CEO of ETHIX360. At ETHIX360, our goal is simple, to provide an affordable, flexible and comprehensive answer to employee communication and case management on issues related to corporate ethics, code of conduct, fraud, bribery, EH&S and workplace violence. To learn more about ETHIX360, please visit www.ethix360.com, or follow us on twitter @ethix360.