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Plans To Stamp Out Workplace Corruption

By IAN FERGUSON

Corruption seems to be the ‘buzz word’ in our political, corporate and social environment today. Even Bahamians have seemingly lost a sense of integrity regarding their dealings with people, and what belongs to others. The dictionary offers a simple definition of corruption as “dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those with power, typically involving bribery”. Many will argue that corruption is so pervasive, and has taken such deep roots, that it is nearly impossible to completely remove it from our every day existence. The real issue is that after many years of dishonest ‘domestication’, our values have shifted and our moral compass is so skewed that many (if not most) see blurred lines between right and wrong.

Our response has to include leaders viewing all matters of corruption through a non-partisan lens. There are global standards of unethical behaviour that clearly articulate when employees and others have crossed the line. The consequences of continuing to permit the blatant violation of these standards is a deepening spread of the cancer that erodes every facet of our social and moral fabric.

Do not mis-judge or take for granted the task ahead of trying to address corruption. Many will resist (sometimes for their own selfish reasons), and others will turn a sympathetic ear towards offenders. While we must always be tender-hearted and forgiving to those who have remorse, it is necessary to hold people accountable for their actions - both positive and negative.

Here are a few points to consider when addressing corruption in the workplace:

1. Make sure the person is actually involved in the crime. While your gut instincts may be correct, it is always a good idea to do some research. So before getting involved in drama, ‘double check’ your suspicions.

Sometimes guilty offenders will cry ‘witch hunt’, but let the chips fall where they may. Look objectively at the evidence and make the right decision. Do not allow your biased, discriminating eye or heart lead you down a judgmental path. Allow justice to prevail.

2. Make sure there are internal controls in place to discourage employees from engaging in such behaviour. Some of these might include: Segregation of duties, to prevent one person from undertaking an entire transaction alone; clearly established lines of delegated authority and responsibility; position descriptions that clearly represent the jobs people actually do; job rotation (wherever possible) for those in key positions of trust; staff awareness, education and training to ensure all are aware of, and can recognise, the signs of possible fraudulent or corrupt behaviour; adequate protective measures for safeguarding, assets, processes and data; and a work environment where people feel comfortable in raising concerns and are not penalised for doing so.

* NB: Ian R. Ferguson is a talent management and organisational development consultant, having completed graduate studies with regional and international universities. He has served organisations, both locally and globally, providing relevant solutions to their business growth and development issues. He may be contacted at tcconsultants@coralwave.com.

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