Are Many Companies Criminal Enterprises?
In a recent blog called Companies Snooping on E-mail I did a poll and it turned out that a significant number of my readers voted for the option "Most companies are criminal enterprises. They shouldn't be allowed to use computers."
And of course those voters could be dismissed as pranksters or simply radical, left-wing, crazy Huffington Post readers.
So I thought it would be interesting to find out how many "regular" company employees, who don't read the Huffington Post, feel about this issue.
The result may surprise you, or maybe not, if you were one of the voters above.
In a 2005 survey of 3,015 U.S. workers conducted by the Ethics Resource Center, (this is a Washington nonprofit group that gets funding from large companies), half the respondents reported observing at least one type of questionable conduct in the past 12 months.
And of the respondents who observed misconduct in 2005, only 55% said they reported it to management, down from 65% in 2003.
In another survey of about 1,800 communications professionals, half the respondents did not agree with the statement "unethical behavior that results in corporate gain is reprimanded."
Finally, one of the most famous whistleblowers in the last few years, Sherron Watkins, who warned senior management at Enron of what was about to happen to the company, has stated that she can't get a new job, in the June 12 issue of BusinessWeek: "I couldn't get a normal corporate job. There are plenty of people who give me a bear hug, but plenty of others give me that odd handshake."
And she has more advice for others who discover fraud: "Look out for yourself. I counsel people that you need to find the safety net of another job and leave before you say anything. Also, don't ever do it alone. Then you can't be dismissed as one lone voice. But be ready to lose your job."
So here we are post Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen and all the other infamous companies and nothing has really changed. Not even Sherron who was named "Time Person of the Year," can get a new job.
That may say more about the true nature of corporate management in America today than any poll or survey. After all, in the last poll, 53% of the communications professionals said that top management is an organization's conscience.