In this three-part blog series, Mark Rowe examines the nature of agreements, recognizing their essential, undeniable human quality which transcends subject matter, form and scope. In Part 1, he reflects on how his past experiences as a litigation lawyer have shaped his perspectives on agreements, and discusses the power and potential of approaching agreements with full humanity.
As JPMorgan Chase was being swallowed by the ‘London Whale’ crisis last year—when poor controls and lax oversight allowed three traders in the bank's London office to accrue and then hide a $6.2 billion loss on a bad derivatives bet—CEO, Jamie Dimon, reportedly received a call from New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady. Brady wanted to offer support, advising Jamie to “hang in there.” It’s unclear whether Brady’s prodigious talents extend to running investment banks, or whether he was worried about his money.
Who knows if Brady called again yesterday when the bank was hit with fines totaling $920 million by regulators in the U.S. and the U.K. Here’s a breakdown of the fines:
Any headline about the most recent banking crisis invariably has an associated reference to culture. Unfortunately, many of these references have been somewhat glib, betraying a lack of real understanding of why culture really matters in organizations and why, and how, it directly influences behaviors and decision-making. The Financial Times was smart enough to observe recently: “Increasingly, bad culture seems to be the obvious culprit at organizations and industries in crisis, and good culture the potential savior. If only it were that simple.”
Most companies—especially those in highly-regulated industries—start with a rules based approach to compliance which, inevitably, leads to a host of unwanted outcomes. Among others, the “rule book” becomes enormous, requires continuous updating, does not cover every scenario, and leaves employees unsure whether the issues important to them are covered.
Topics: Ethics & Compliance Programs
In the past five years, we have seen compliance failures and ethical lapses of such colossal proportions as to raise fundamental questions about the ability of major corporations to govern themselves, or even retain the license to operate.
The banking industry, for example, has displayed egregious conduct with global ramifications: the subprime mortgage crisis; widespread forgery of foreclosure documentation; and, most recently, collusion between multiple banks to manipulate LIBOR, a primary benchmark interest rate. The pharmaceutical industry, meanwhile, has set new records for corporate financial settlements with the U.S. government; four of the world’s leading drug companies have coughed up a total of $8.2 billion in fines since 2009 for off-label marketing abuses.
The fact that many scandals have occurred within such highly-regulated industries, with mature and sophisticated compliance programs, only adds to public consternation, distrust, and cynicism; it has also emboldened enforcement agencies.
Ethics & Compliance professionals and corporate executive teams might reasonably ask a number of important questions: Could that happen here? Are we spending enough money or allocating our resources in the right way? More fundamentally, do we need to rethink our attitudes and approach to managing ethics and compliance risks and encouraging our people to do the right thing?
In this white paper, “Compliance and the Culture Chasm,” we will argue that many companies are committing a fundamental mistake: They are “doing compliance,” but are not getting more compliance commensurate with their investment—and they are certainly not getting the culture and ethical behavior that could largely prevent those compliance failures in the first place.
Topics: Ethics & Compliance
On July 17, Marissa Mayer, a 37-year-old former executive and “face” of Google became Yahoo!’s CEO, the company’s fifth in five years. Yahoo!‘s business is struggling badly: its 14 per cent share of the North American search engine market may not be far behind Microsoft (a much more profitable company, of course) but lags Google’s share by over 50 per cent; and 2011 revenue, net income, total assets and equity were all down on the previous year. Most commentators place poor strategy and lack of innovation at the top of the list of problems afflicting Yahoo! Ms Mayer’s experience at Google appears to have given her insights into something more fundamental: culture. Even though she doesn’t know me from a hole in a balance sheet, I decided to share a few observations with her.
AN OPEN LETTER TO MARISSA MAYER, A CEO ON A CULTURE MISSION
How’s your day going? Oh. Not so good? Feel like you’re going to explode if that happens one more time? Well, have you told anyone? No, I suppose not. We don’t want people getting emotional in the workplace.
Or do we?
This week, a conference with global significance is taking place in Rio de Janeiro. Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, is being held on the twentieth anniversary of the Earth Summit. It’s billed as “an historic opportunity to define pathways to a safer, more equitable, cleaner, greener and more prosperous world for all.”
The goal of the conference is to negotiate a set of global resolutions aimed at shaping a world without poverty, where we can all live, eat and work without harming our planet. Yet there’s one critical item missing from the Rio+20 agenda: the issue of corruption. In The Future We Want, the ‘zero’ draft of the Rio+20 outcome document, the word ‘corruption’ is never mentioned and the word ‘transparency’ appears only once. Given the stated aims of the conference, it’s hard to understand the omission.
The European debt crisis and slow economic growth in North America have greatly increased the commercial significance of entry into emerging global markets, especially the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which now account for almost half of the world’s population. Consistent with this, more than half (52 percent) of Ethics & Compliance (E&C) leaders recently surveyed by LRN cite global expansion―especially in emerging markets―as a top corporate priority for 2012.
As potentially lucrative as it might be for companies to set up or consolidate operations in emerging markets, such opportunities present some very significant risks. Historically, governance systems in these regions have been typically weak; laws that might otherwise promote free and fair competition, honest business practices and intellectual property protection are rarely enforced or absent altogether.
Topics: Ethics & Compliance
Thoughts about inspiring principled performance.