‘WHEN COMPLAINTS ARE FREELY HEARD, DEEPLY CONSIDERED AND SPEEDILY REFORMED, THEN IS THE UTMOST BOUND OF CIVIL LIBERTY ATTAINED THAT WISE MEN LOOK FOR’. John Milton
SCRUPLES: a feeling of doubt or hesitation with regard to the morality or propriety of a course of action.
Imagine this: You have graduated from university, and this is your first job. You are asked to back-date witnessing a signature to a contract, which would bring financial advantage to your employee, (let’s call your employer, Company A), and a financial loss to another business (Company B).
Firstly, have you understood the position correctly? Are you being over-cautious?
Assuming your fact-check correctly, knowing that what you are being asked to do is illegal, are you going to sign or not?
You may well conclude and justify in your mind that all is well, and that it is not your concern because Company A benefits, and indirectly you benefit: That would be the wrong answer. Just because all businesses are potentially criminogenic, does not mean that you should adopt the same culture, unless of course you wish to join the dark side…and descend into a dance with the devil…
’If you dance with the devil, then you haven’t got a clue, for you think you’ll change the devil, but the devil changes you’, JM Smith.
Is the request made by your supervisor/line-manager, and is this in line with company policy?
Is this morally acceptable for company A?
If you have a strong sense of right, how will you approach this with your supervisor/line manager?
What if the line manager ignores you?
You raise your complaint with Human Resources or else the head of department, and you keep going until you reach the owners of the business?
Do they all tell you to keep quiet and to sign and stop complaining or you will lose your job?
Or, does someone higher, take note and do something about it?
Is being right, the same as being happy?
Do you want to belong to a business where they delight in short-cuts for financial gain by all means necessary including criminal acts?
Would you sleep at night, knowing you have done wrong, and justify it with: I was just following orders. I am not personally liable for the actions of the company.
Is that who you are? Is that who you want to be? Do you want a reputation for having no scruples as to right and wrong?
Assuming you do think that what you are being asked to do is wrong, how will you speak up?
What will be your approach?
Possible answers next week. Be good. Do good.
Professor David Rosen is a solicitor-advocate and principal of David Rosen & Co. He is a Certified Fraud Examiner, a member of the ACFE Advisory Council, a member of RUSI, and a former strategic director of the Board of the ACFE UK Chapter. He regularly lectures on counter-fraud and counter-corruption as an honorary professor of Law at Brunel University.