Friday, June 16, 2006

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.


Anonymous said...

What is msmelody talking about? Corporations have had the legal status of "person" for as long as I know and remember. And I am methusalem's twin sister. As for the tendency to sue anyone and everyone here in the U.S., it would be good to realize that we, the customers, are paying collectively for the right of one, or more persons to sue, and that it is the lawyers who collect, not the "victim", Class action suits, especially, are good. In addition, with all those lucrative options, it is almost impossible to get a lawyer to take your case if you need one, unless you have extremely "deep pockets". The litigants, who "win", moreover, will have to go to court at least once more to "collect" - another fee for the lawyer.

Anonymous said...

"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."
And never will. Unless she takes the advice of "re-invent yourself and disappear into the woodwork". Which is the same advice I give you when you are tired of fighting the losing battle. Enjoy the battle while you can.
"Hubris", arrogance resulting from excessive pride or passion, is the word used in a wonderful article in the Chicago Tribune chronicling the fall of Arthur Andersen.,1,7453702.column?coll=chi-newsspecials-hed
Hubris is alive, well and flourishing until we, the people, take back our country. Want to help?
PBS NewsHour June 1, 2006 Special Report by Judy Woodruff
Post your own comment to the article at:
Almost All You Need To Know About Leadership¬e=
This, from Enron juror Freddy Delgado, an elementary school principal:
"I can't say that I don't know what my teachers were doing in the classroom.
I am still responsible if a child gets lost."
Sounds like the jury-of-one's-peers system, even in a complex corporate trial,
is alive and well. Thanks, Principal Delgado, for your service to our country—
I envy the parents and students in your school!

Truthspew said...

This whole thing about the amendments applying to corporations is based on the 14th amendment.

That's why I'd like to propose a change to the amendment. Everywhere the word 'person' appears (The creators of the 14th wanted to put citizen but corporate interests even then got person used.) insert the word 'human'. That would quash every right corporations think they have.