Do your employees feel safe speaking up about wrongdoing?

Wrongdoing is rife in workplaces today. A massive 61% of U.S. workers say they’ve witnessed or experienced workplace harassment or discrimination based on race, gender, age, and sexuality. Yet reporting rates remain low. Why? Firstly, because employees are afraid of being victimised for speaking out. And secondly, they don’t think anything will be done about it, so why bother? If you want to boost reporting rates at your company – making your workplace a safer, more inclusive and happier place to work – here are 6 important steps you can take:

  1. Put in place safe, anonymous reporting channels like FraudCracker that protect whistleblowers, and help drive ethical behaviour and trust;
  2. Senior leaders need to show commitment to accountability by walking the talk and modelling the right behaviours. Share the metrics you use to hold leaders and the company accountable;
  3. Punish perpetrators proven to behave unethically, via disciplinary action, termination, prosecution, etc., and tell your employees when this happens. This sends a strong message that misconduct will not be tolerated;
  4. Publicly commit to do better for victims of wrongdoing. If an incident has been mishandled in the past, focus on re-building lost trust. Reach out to workers who were affected, apologise for the harm done, and offer recourse. Make things right;
  5. Invest in resources such as a counsellor or employee assistance program, to support victims of harassment and discrimination, especially those who come forward; and
  6. Set up an ombuds office that talks openly to employees about their fears and concerns, and educates them about the reporting options available to them.

Find out more at https://hbr.org/2020/10/do-your-employees-feel-safe-reporting-abuse-and-discrimination

THANK YOU TO ALL THE WHISTLEBLOWERS OUT THERE

Tomorrow 23-June is World Whistleblower Day. Why do we need a day dedicated to whistleblowers? It’s our way of saying a big thank you to the people with the courage to speak out against corruption, fraud and wrongdoing. Let’s celebrate them and protect them, and make it easier and safer for them to blow the whistle! They make the world a safer place for us and our children.

Find out more at https://www.transparency.org/en/news/world-whistleblowers-day-2021-speaking-up-against-corruption-crucial-just-world-alacs-can-help#

Guptas’ state capture cost South Africa almost R50bn

Following the money from government entities to the Guptas’ coffers, nearly R50 billion can be traced through invoices and bank statements. This is money that could have been spent on healthcare, education, infrastructure and service delivery. But the real cost to South Africa is probably higher, warned investigator Paul Holden at the Zondo Commission recently. Get the full story at https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-05-24-the-totalish-cost-of-the-guptas-state-capture-r49157323233-68/

Image courtesy of https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2021-05-24-the-totalish-cost-of-the-guptas-state-capture-r49157323233-68/

Why don’t we speak up when we see wrongdoing?

Cutting out junk food, getting 8 hours’ sleep a night, exercising daily – everyone knows we should be doing these things, but most of us simply don’t. In behavioural science lingo, it’s called the intention-action gap – when we plan to do something, but we seldom do it. Likewise, ask anyone if they’d help when they saw misconduct, and almost everybody says yes. The big questions are: Why don’t we? And how do we overcome this urge to do nothing? Find out more in these intriguing articles:

  1. https://www.compli.com/blog/workplace-harassment-how-the-bystander-effect-creates-open-secrets/
  2. https://fcpablog.com/2021/03/08/why-dont-people-intervene-when-they-see-unethical-conduct/

SA cabinet adopts anti-corruption strategy

Corruption has been rife in SA for decades, and the government has set up structures to deal with it head-on. Cabinet has approved a national anti-corruption strategy to create an independent statutory structure reporting directly to parliament. The strategy has taken a year to come together, in consultation with a wide range of players. It has 6 pillars, including promoting and encouraging active citizenry, whistle-blowing, integrity and transparency; advancing the professionalisation of employees, improving governance in institutions, and strengthening resourcing and co-ordination of performance and accountability. The strategy also proposes an interim National Anti-Corruption Advisory Council for greater monitoring, accountability and transparency. But, as any successful entrepreneur will tell you, it’s execution, and not ideas or words, that matter. Hopefully this strategy will deliver on its promises. Find out more at https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2020-11-19-cabinet-adopts-national-anti-corruption-strategy/

Picture courtesy of Art Crumbs

Speaking out when it matters

Speaking up at work can be very difficult, even if you know it’s the right thing to do. You see something unethical. Notice someone being excluded. Hear a colleague using offensive language. How many times have you wanted to say something, but your inner voice says don’t? However, by NOT speaking up, you’re sending a message that this bad behaviour is OK. And it is NOT. You’re also not doing your job as an employee, co-worker or leader if you turn a blind eye.

So what do you do? Research shows we’re more likely to follow through on difficult tasks if we acknowledge the challenge we’re facing. So your first move should be to take a breath and remind yourself that speaking up will be hard. And be prepared for the person to push back when you confront them. Frame your comment as feedback to show you aren’t out to get anyone and you aren’t assuming they meant to hurt. If a co-worker makes an offensive joke, for example, say, “You may not have meant to offend, but here’s how I experienced it.” Think about different types of situations where you may need to speak up and how you’ll respond. Having a plan will ensure you’re ready to confront bad behaviour when you see it. To find out more, go to https://hbr.org/2019/03/how-to-speak-up-when-it-matters

FraudCracker interviewed by Safety Detective

Aviva Zacks of Safety Detective recently interviewed Colette Symanowitz of FraudCracker, to find out how our ground-breaking tech helps people report fraud anonymously and still get rewarded. Read the full interview here.

Safety Detective is an antivirus review site that also keeps its readers informed about the ever-changing cybersecurity landscape with blogs and interviews with today’s cybersecurity thought leaders.

Today is #GlobalEthicsDay2020

Today 21st October 2020 is Global Ethics Day. This is a fantastic teaching opportunity for organisations worldwide to share the vital role that ethics plays in our lives. You can do this through events, activities, social media, and any action that sets a positive example of ethical behaviour. This is your chance to stand up against wrongdoing such as corruption, fraud, sexual harassment, discrimination, gender-based violence, or any other form of wrongdoing. It’s about spreading the message that ethics and doing good matters, no matter where you live, where you come from, or what you believe in. So what activities are people doing on #GlobalEthicsDay2020? Using your company’s FraudCracker tool, you could anonymously report a fraud incident that you know about in your company. You could walk in a march against corruption in politics, like the #ZumaMustFall marches that thousands of us took part in around South Africa in 2017. It could be a protest at your school for #BlackLivesMatter or against gender-based violence. You could donate blood at a blood drive nearby (go to https://sanbs.org.za/donor-centres/ to find out where you can donate). You could start a vegetable garden on your pavement to share what you grow with others who can’t afford to buy fresh vegetables regularly for their families, sending a message about environmental sustainability and community support. There are tons of different ways for you to show that doing good matters. Visit https://globalethicsday.org/ for pics from people around the world. The important thing is to do something together to stand up against wrongdoing, setting the example for our children today, and their children tomorrow. Please share pics of what you’re doing to support #GlobalEthicsDay2020. Thanks everyone!

FraudCracker among global top 100 cybersecurity startups for 2020

Great news! Cyber Defense Magazine has released the names of the Top 100 Cybersecurity Startups worldwide for 2020, and FraudCracker has made it onto the list. A big thank you to everyone in our team who made this possible. Thanks to Cyber Defense Magazine for this award and well done to all the startups who made it into the top 100. Check out the full list of award recipients at https://cyberdefenseawards.com/top-100-cybersecurity-startups-for-2020/

U.S. court grants IDC access to Gupta financial records from 17 global banks

Remember that saying “The wheels of justice turn slowly but they grind exceedingly fine”? It’s finally come true for the Guptas. Proof that Gupta companies laundered government money from the Estina dairy project, plus Transnet locomotive deal kickbacks, may be locked deep inside a number of New York banks. A landmark decision has given the vault keys to the IDC (Industrial Development Corporation). In August 2020, a Manhattan judge granted a secret court order, giving the IDC crucial access to Gupta financial records at 17 New York banks. The order enabled the IDC’s New York lawyers to subpoena the 17 banks which the Guptas, their associates and connected companies used as part of their worldwide money-moving machine to do business in dollars. These records could be a game-changer for South African authorities, who’ve been trying to prove money laundering on an international scale. Get the full story at https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-09-20-new-york-court-grants-idc-access-to-gupta-financial-records-from-17-international-banks/

Bosses demand women ‘dress sexier’ for video calls

As working remotely becomes the norm, we’re seeing an alarming pattern emerging among sexist leadership teams. Bosses have been overstepping their authority by urging female staff to dress more provocatively, saying that it would ‘help to win business’. According to a recent report from employment law experts Slater & Gordon, managers are actively instructing female employees to dress ‘sexier’ for video calls. A disturbing 35% of the women interviewed said they’ve felt the brunt of sexist workplace demands since lockdown began. Asking female staff (or male staff for that matter) to dress sexier, no matter what the reason, is discrimination. And it’s important to report this unethical behaviour. Get the full story at https://www.hcamag.com/au/specialisation/diversity-inclusion/bosses-demand-women-dress-sexier-for-video-meetings/228844?hss_channel=tw-240032720

Stop asking job seekers about prior pay

Sadly, even today, equal pay for equal work is still not a reality. According to 2016 U.S. Census data, women earn 80 cents compared to every dollar that men earn. And, in a 2019 PayScale survey comparing the average earnings of Black men and White men in the U.S., on average, Black men earned 87 cents for every dollar earned by White men. This means Black females are hit doubly hard by the pay gap, compared to their White male peers.

So it’s vital that CEOs commit to fighting gender and race discrimination in the workplace, not just in their words, but also in their actions. How to do this? Ground-breaking research shows that leaders can take 1 simple step to sizeably slash pay differences for Black and female employees: stop asking job seekers about prior pay. This action alone can substantially close the wage gap. But only if it is done by all companies across the board, not just by a handful. Many U.S. states have made it illegal to ask salary history. By comparing states with salary history bans (SHBs), to those without them, this new research shows that these laws triggered sizeably higher pay offers for Black (+13%) and female (+8%) candidates who took new jobs. These laws are aimed mostly at women, with many of them directly tackling equal pay and the gender wage gap.

Why do we need these laws? Because they stop job seekers getting starting salaries tied to low past pay. If a woman is paid less from the outset, and then limited by her past salary at each later job, she may never catch up. These laws makes employers less likely to keep the wage gap going, by basing salary offers for new hires on their past salary. This practice seems to disproportionately affect female and Black job seekers, at least in the USA. Yes, it may be unintentional, but it’s discriminatory nonetheless.

Why do disadvantaged groups get paid more, when employers don’t use salary history information? Because salary history gives employers a negotiating edge. Knowing that a job seeker is currently underpaid, employers can offer slightly more than their current pay, confident that the applicant will accept. But often the applicant is still paid less than they’re worth. In this way, the pay gap persists. But when employers don’t know salary histories, Black and female job seekers see a more level playing field.

Employers should be hiring and paying new hires for the experience, skills and qualifications they have, not for what they were paid in the past.

In the USA, asking job seekers about their salary history in job interviews is fast becoming a thing of the past. Is it illegal to ask this question in other countries? In Canada, yes. But sadly, not yet in countries like South Africa, the UK and Australia. Hopefully this will happen soon.

So, if a potential employer does ask the dreaded question about your past pay, what do you do? Negotiation experts suggest tactfully sidestepping it, with a response such as: “I’m looking for a package in line with competitive market rates and what this job involves,” or “I’d be happy to talk more about salary once we reach the offer stage.” And if you feel uncomfortably assertive saying this, ask yourself: “Would a man feel the same way?” I doubt it.

Find out more at the references below:

  1. https://hbr.org/2020/07/stop-asking-job-candidates-for-their-salary-history
  2. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/22/us/dont-ask-me-about-my-salary-history.html
  3. https://primepay.com/blog/state-state-salary-history-ban-overview#
  4. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/compensation/pages/racial-wage-gaps-persistence-poses-challenge.aspx
  5. https://www.sterlingbackcheck.ca/blog/2018/08/will-ontarios-pay-transparency-act-impact-hiring-process/

Corruption: can we beat the gravy train? Webinar

Corruption is a massive problem worldwide with deep social, political and economic costs. But it isn’t unbeatable. We can beat corruption, and countries have done it. Find out how they did it, the anti-corruption models that work, and what the lessons are for South Africa. Click here to join this eye-opening talk given by Colette Symanowitz of FraudCracker.com, as part of the SABS ACFE SA webinar on 1-Sep-2020. Or RSVP by email to invitations@sabs.co.za. See you there!

5 government officials arrested in fraud case linked to Vrede dairy farm and Department of Agriculture

In South Africa, the fight against corruption is finally leading to arrests. On 17-Aug-2020, the Hawk’s Serious Corruption Investigation team arrested 5 Free State government officials. This makes 7 arrests so far in the corruption, fraud and money-laundering case linked to the infamous Vrede dairy farm case and the Free State Department of Agriculture, under the leadership of controversial ANC politicians Ace Magashule and Mosebenzi Zwane. The 5 were arrested after payments totalling R244m couldn’t be accounted for, while investigating Estina, a partner company meant to help set up a dairy farming project for black farmers. Lerato Mngomezulu, Disebo Masiteng, Mokemane Ndumo, Mahlomola Mofokeng and Mbana Thabetha appeared in court on 18-Aug-2020 on charges of corruption, fraud and money-laundering. They were each given bail of R10,000. The first 4 were members of the bid evaluation committee, while Thabetha headed up the agriculture department. Get the full story at the links below:

  1. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-08-18-more-arrests-in-fraud-case-linked-to-vrede-dairy-farm-and-the-free-state-department-of-agriculture/
  2. https://fakazanews.com/2020/08/18/five-free-state-officials-arrested-on-fraud-charges/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vrede_Dairy_Project

Will we see more women leaders because of the pandemic?

From New Zealand to Germany, from Iceland to Taiwan, women are setting the global bar on how to lead effectively in a crisis. According to Social Europe’s data analyses, countries with women at the helm have had 6x fewer Covid-19 deaths than those led by men, and will recover sooner from recession. On top of this, female-led governments have been more effective and faster at flattening the curve. And the average number of days with confirmed Covid-19 deaths was 34 in countries led by women, compared to 48 in men-led countries. The media is also full of stories about their practical approach, skill and humanity in the coronavirus crisis. However, the global average for women in national parliaments sits at only 25% (at June 2020). And women representation on boards is still low worldwide: women hold only 12% of board seats globally, with just 4% chairing boards. Will the positive results in the pandemic make us more willing to have women leaders in the corridors of power? Find out more at the sites below:

  1. https://hbr.org/2020/06/will-the-pandemic-reshape-notions-of-female-leadership
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/avivahwittenbergcox/2020/04/13/what-do-countries-with-the-best-coronavirus-reponses-have-in-common-women-leaders/#2db2b85f3dec
  3. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/13/opinion/sunday/women-leaders-coronavirus.html
  4. https://www.socialeurope.eu/women-in-power-its-a-matter-of-life-and-death
  5. https://www2.deloitte.com/za/en/pages/risk/articles/women-in-the-boardroom.html#
  6. https://data.ipu.org/women-averages?month=6&year=2020&op=Show+averages&form_build_id=form-EYXckrLDixJ3Ia7HipbmedP_84g6YP7F_PaylJQQxTQ&form_id=ipu__women_averages_filter_form

FraudCracker gets certification from The Ethics Institute

It’s official! We now have certification from The Ethics Institute (TEI) for FraudCracker, our online fraud reporting tool with interactive anonymous chat. FraudCracker allows your company’s authority figures, like the CEO or CFO, to have a back-and-forth follow-up conversation with the whistle-blower, ask them questions and get evidence from them. And the whistle-blower remains completely anonymous the whole time. 

Initially when we started working with TEI, they didn’t have a standard by which to assess and certify digital whistle-blowing tools like FraudCracker. So we worked closely with Liezl Groenewald to develop this. And so Safeline-DigEX was born. TEI’s SafeLine-DigEX (short for “Safe Reporting Service Provider Standard Digital External”) is a best practice standard which unpacks what elements a quality digital safe reporting system, managed by independent safe reporting service providers, needs to have. Thanks to Liezl and her team at TEI, and our FraudCracker team, for all their hard work to make FraudCracker’s certification possible!

Contact us if you’d like us to send you the TEI’s certification for FraudCracker.

Mashaba’s People’s Dialogue party to hit corruption hard

The party created by former Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba, The People’s Dialogue, has corruption-busting at the top of its agenda. After resigning from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and as Mayor of Johannesburg, Mashaba launched The People’s Dialogue in December 2019. He says the goal is to “engage” South Africans in a conversation about the future of our country. In Mashaba’s words: “The People’s Dialogue was launched as a platform to engage South Africans from all walks of life about how we can build a South Africa that we can all be proud of”. He plans to take on ANC leaders when his party launches in August 2020.

Mashaba is an independent politician and successful South African entrepreneur. He is famous for his inspirational life story: growing up in South Africa, struggling against poverty and the apartheid government to open Black Like Me way back in the 1980s. He grew this into the biggest hair brand in South Africa, making him a millionaire against incredible odds. In late 2019, Mashaba broke away from the DA and his role as Johannesburg’s mayor. After 3 years as the “accidental” mayor of South African’s economic hub, he fully understands just how broken the South African political system is. And with his People’s Dialogue party, he has the right platform to fix it, and hopefully to fix South Africa.

In an open letter to South Africa, Mashaba said: “I write to you now to suggest that there is an alternative, one which promises not just hope but the action necessary to do what is required to fix our country. I didn’t make my money through political connections. I made it by doing what you have done – creating businesses, nurturing them and growing them in spite of government.”

“We are going to tackle the difficult issues of unions, labour laws, state-owned entities, the professionalisation of the public service, necessary support for small businesses, declaring corruption public enemy number one and the return of the rule of law. It is only through the unapologetic and decisive support of business that we will grow an economy that creates jobs for South Africans.”

‘It is going to be difficult; it is going to be a hard pill for some to swallow. There will be some who will oppose these measures vigorously because they threaten the fabric of patronage on which they survive, but they will be necessary.”

“We will build a movement that will do what no other party can do in South Africa – that is to successfully challenge for national power and unseat the ANC in 2024.”

With most politicians, these would just be empty words to get votes. But if there is one person who can be trusted to hit corruption head-on and get South Africa back on track, it is Herman Mashaba. Get the full story at the links below.

References:

  1. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2020-07-02-mashabas-peoples-dialogue-is-mapping-out-a-way-towards-effective-corruption-busting/
  2. https://www.biznews.com/thought-leaders/2020/07/20/herman-mashaba-letter-ramaphosa
  3. https://za.opera.news/za/en/entertainment/923006d75d7ee210af561672244885bc
  4. https://www.goodthingsguy.com/opinion/from-the-desk-of-herman-mashaba-fix-south-africa/

South Africa joins outcry against U.S. exec order targeting ICC staff

On Thursday 11 June 2020 Donald Trump signed an exec order authorising travel restrictions and sanctions against International Criminal Court (ICC) personnel. This is the administration’s latest move to bully the ICC into not probing possible war crimes by US military and intelligence officials. The exec order stops investigations, detentions and prosecutions of US citizens alleged to have perpetrated global crimes.

The go-ahead to sanction ICC officials has triggered widespread international condemnation from human rights bodies, civil society organisations, human rights lawyers, global officials and academics. On 23 June, 67 member states, including South Africa, came out strongly in support of the ICC as an independent and impartial judicial body. In opposition to the US exec order, they issued a statement showing their commitment to fight immunity for the most barbaric crimes. The ICC said: “An attack on the ICC represents an attack against the interests of victims of atrocity crimes, for many of whom the Court represents the last hope for justice.”

Find out more at the links below:

  1. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2020-06-26-good-news-as-south-africa-affirms-its-commitment-to-accountability-for-international-crimes/
  2. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/06/11/politics/icc-executive-order/index.html
  3. https://www.politico.eu/article/white-house-sanctions-against-the-international-criminal-court/
  4. https://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ani/international-criminal-court-expresses-regret-over-us-sanctions-vows-to-continue-work-120061200114_1.html

South Africa’s rhino dehorning project tackles poaching

South Africa has dehorned dozens of rhinos in 3 game parks. Hopefully, this decisive action will stop poachers taking advantage of the COVID-19-lockdown drop in tourism to slaughter them for their horns. The project in Pilanesburg National Park and the Mafikeng and Botsalano game reserves – all northwest of Johannesburg – leaves the rhinos with horn stumps too small to attract poachers, Nico Jacobs, helicopter pilot and founding member of non-profit Rhino 911 told Reuters. According to the International Rhino Foundation, rhinos have been in existence for 30 million years, but years of hunting and habitat loss have slashed their numbers to just 27,000 today. A spike in poaching has decimated thousands in the last 3 years. “In order to … give the population a chance to grow again, we need to relieve the pressure on them … (by) dehorning,” explained Pieter Nel, acting head of conservation of the North West Parks board.

The demand for rhino horn stems from East Asia, where the powder is traditionally used in medicinal concoctions to treat a range of conditions from cancer to gout. Unsuccessfully. Not surprising, as the horns are made up mostly of keratin, the main ingredient in human fingernails and hair.

It’s tragic that we are losing one of the noblest species on earth because of false, superstitious beliefs. Well done to South Africa’s parks for tackling this issue head-on! Find out more at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-world-environmentday-safrica-rhinos/south-africa-dehorns-dozens-of-rhinos-to-prevent-lockdown7-poaching-surge-idUSKBN23C00B#

ACFE webinar: Protecting whistleblowers in the digital age

Thanks to all of you who attended our webinar for ACFESA (the Association of Fraud Examiners South Africa) that Colette presented on 4-June-2020, and a big thank you also to ACFESA for hosting it. Great turnout! Hope you found it useful. If you have any questions or would like a copy of the slides, please email Colette on colette@fraudcracker.com.