To have better meetings means leading with mutual respectful, inclusivity, and creating a space safe enough for your people to speak their minds. You can increase the freedom, candour, and quality of conversation in your meetings by focusing on 2 key areas: giving permission and creating safety. Through this journey, your team will become more cohesive and able to work together more powerfully. Find out more at https://hbr.org/2019/04/make-your-meetings-a-safe-space-for-honest-conversation
For years, auditors have focused on internal controls to assess if the control environment works effectively to reduce the risk of fraud. As standards have evolved to focus more on fraud, so has tech. Innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotic process automation (RPA) and blockchain are tools that may help to detect fraud; but what if they also allow fraudsters to commit harder-to-detect crimes? Read the full story at https://www.cpajournal.com/2019/07/01/fraud-in-a-world-of-advanced-technologies/
More whistles blown are a sign of health, not sickness. Firms whose hotlines get used more, tend to be more profitable and have less legal exposure. The more employees use whistle-blowing hotlines, the less lawsuits companies face, and the less money firms pay out in settlements. Companies that more actively use their own reporting tools can detect and address problems internally before litigation becomes likely. This lowers legal costs, damage to brand reputation and stock price. Higher use of internal reporting tools doesn’t mean more external reports to regulatory authorities, or that problems at the firm are more frequent or serious. Often, high usage shows open communication between staff and management (and a belief that issues raised will be resolved), rather than real trouble. However, when employees report externally, it signals management’s failure to address problems internally. Managers should see hotlines as a key part of the audit process. Read more at https://hbr.org/2018/11/research-whistleblowers-are-a-sign-of-healthy-companies
Social media has made democracies more democratic by giving everyone a voice. But it also makes cyberbullies with large followings dangerous enough to make the lives of journalists so unbearable, that they quit. The internet and powerful social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and Google now host brutal cyber-attacks against journalists. Twitter has even earned the nickname “Toxic Twitter” because of this. Unesco, the United Nations agency that deals with free media, and other global free media advocates, see this as a rising threat to media freedom. In a worrying trend called cyber-misogyny, women reporters are often the targets of scathing, sexually humiliating, online abuse. The more followers the cyberbullies have, the more damage they can do. How do we protect these courageous reporters who risk their lives in the pursuit of truth for us? How do we stop this extreme intolerance of freedom of speech? Read the full story at https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-08-06-twitter-and-the-rest-of-social-media-are-a-rising-threat-to-media-freedom-and-i-am-part-of-their-roadkill/
Fraud researcher and documentary filmmaker Kelly Richmond Pope shares lessons from some of the most high-profile whistle-blowers of the past, explaining how they’ve shared information that has shaped society — and why they need our trust and protection. Here’s her TED talk at https://www.ted.com/talks/kelly_richmond_pope_how_whistle_blowers_shape_history
Yesterday 30-July was #WhistleblowerAppreciationDay in the US, while 23-June was World Whistleblower Day. 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! They make the world a better place for us and our kids.
Are you paying salaries to people who don’t work for you, or who don’t exist? Ghost worker fraud on a company’s payroll is one of the hardest types of payroll fraud to detect, especially in bigger companies without proper controls. It can lead to substantial financial losses, and can make a serious dent in your firm’s profitability, killing your company over time. So how can you stop it happening? Find out more at https://www.itweb.co.za/content/raYAyqoV9dxMJ38N
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has slapped tech giant Facebook with a record $5bn fine over privacy breaches. A US government agency, the FTC’s main goal is to protect consumers, and remove and prevent anti-competitive business behaviour. The FTC says Facebook must pay the fine, submit to new restrictions and a revised corporate structure, and set up strong new mechanisms from board-level down that will hold the firm and its execs accountable for their decisions about users’ privacy. The $5bn penalty is the largest imposed on any company globally for violating consumers’ privacy – almost 20x more than the next biggest fine to date. “Despite repeated promises to its billions of users worldwide that they’d control how users’ personal information is shared, Facebook undermined consumers’ choices,” says FTC chair Joe Simons. The mammoth fine and sweeping conduct relief aim not only to punish future violations but, more importantly, to change Facebook’s entire privacy culture, so that violations are less likely to happen again. Get the full story at https://www.itweb.co.za/content/LPp6V7r4VQ4qDKQz
We need to be the change we want to see, we can’t expect others to do the right thing when we continue to do wrong. When balancing the different needs of the 4 stakeholders in any business (the shareholders, the employees, the customers and the communities), a guiding mantra of ethical leadership is this: we serve the customers, not the shareholders; we reward the shareholders; we support our staff to serve the customers, and we improve our communities. Instead of maximising profits to benefit shareholders, we should focus on making money to reinvest so as to create more opportunities. For the full article, go to https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2019-07-18-ethical-leadership-means-first-do-no-harm-in-business-and-in-life/
Eight people. That’s all. Eight people out of EOH’s staff of 11,500 put the entire company in jeopardy through a systematic process of fraud, corruption and bribery that saw R1.2bn of suspicious payments flow out of the company between 2014 and 2017. EOH believes it has stemmed the rot. But have they? For the full story, go to https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-07-17-a-r1-2bn-pot-of-toxic-soup-at-eoh/
According to an update today, law firm ENSafrica found evidence of and is investigating R1.2bn in suspicious transactions at ICT group EOH. ENSafrica’s recent forensic probe into EOH uncovered a number of unethical practices, including unsubstantiated payments and tender irregularities. These may be legitimate transactions, theft or bribery and corruption payments. EOH’s problems started after Microsoft ended its contract with EOH earlier in 2019 after an anonymous whistle-blower reportedly filed a complaint with the US SEC about alleged wrongdoing in a R120m contract with the SA Department of Defence. Just yesterday, EOH announced the resignations of 3 top execs. To find out more, read https://www.itweb.co.za/content/VgZeyvJARRGqdjX9
Creating a culture of trust is good for business. Employees in high-trust organisations are more productive and engaged, have more energy at work and less burnout, collaborate better with their colleagues, are less chronically stressed, take fewer sick days, and stay with their employers longer than people working at low-trust companies. Interestingly, high-trust companies also pay more. These factors fuel stronger performance. Leaders understand the stakes. In its 2016 global CEO survey, PwC found that 55% of CEOs think that a lack of trust threatens their company’s growth. But in order to build trust, where do you start? For a science-based framework that’ll help you manage for trust in your firm, read https://hbr.org/2017/01/the-neuroscience-of-trust
Many recent corporate scandals such as Volkswagen or Wells Fargo have been cases of wide-scale dishonesty. But how could lying and deceit have become the norm at these companies? Some researchers believe that leaders justify unethical choices because of group think or psychological traps. Certainly those factors play a role, but they largely explain why individuals – not entire organisations – behave dishonestly. Are there organisation-wide factors that predict whether or not people inside a company will be honest? The answer is yes. The author’s research uncovered 4 such organisational factors: lack of strategic clarity, unjust accountability systems, poor organisational governance, and weak cross-functional collaboration. The good news is that these factors are completely within a company’s control. Improving them can make your company more honest, and help prevent the reputation and financial disasters that dishonesty can lead to. Read the full story at https://hbr.org/2019/02/4-ways-lying-becomes-the-norm-at-a-company
Fraud against medical aid schemes is a big problem worldwide. But in South Africa, there is another aspect to the issue. And that is race. An organisation for medical professionals has made the explosive allegation that SA’s top medical aids are guilty of racial profiling in their efforts to combat medical aid fraud. Get the full story at https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-07-04-medical-aid-schemes-caught-in-a-vice-between-fraud-and-claims-of-racial-profiling/
People are more likely to trust leaders who understand and embody the 3 elements that underlie trust. These are:
- Positive relationships (the extent to which a leader creates positive relationships with others),
- Good judgment/expertise (when making decisions and responding to problems), and
- Consistency (the extent to which leaders walk their talk and do what they say they will do).
For people to trust a leader, all 3 of these elements need to be above average in that leader’s behaviour. To find out more, go to https://hbr.org/2019/02/the-3-elements-of-trust
Strengthening the internal control system and the control environment will help reduce the likelihood of fraud happening as well as the impact of fraud, if it occurs. 49% of respondents in the 2018 PwC Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey said their companies had experienced fraud, compared to 36% in 2016. For more details, go to http://www.ft.lk/columns/Are-you-ready-to-combat-fraud-/4-679414
In 2016, out of desperation while on a pilgrimage in France, former South African Airways (SAA) treasurer Cynthia Stimpel sent a WhatsApp message to officials at National Treasury, warning them of a dirty deal in the making at SAA. It was ignored. They had stalled and blocked her at every turn, but Stimpel was relentless in her efforts to stop a R15b cash-raising deal from being pulled off outside of due process – and with the help of BnP Capital as transaction adviser for R225m – while South African banks could do it for +/-R85m. Stimpel was fired for standing up to corruption; SAA’s version: she was suspended for misconduct and sharing confidential documents. Find out more at https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-06-14-this-is-a-whatsapp-whistleblowing-message-i-dont-know-how-else-to-do-it/
After new allegations at KPMG of cheating on internal training tests, audit committees now have questions about their external auditors’ own adherence to standards – are controls in place, are they well-designed, and are they operating effectively? In what is supposedly the SEC’s largest-ever monetary penalty against an audit firm, KPMG agreed to a $50m settlement and admitted to facts in the SEC’s order describing extensive activity at all seniority levels on 2 separate fronts to circumvent regulatory scrutiny. The firm not only admitted to facts surrounding the 2018 revelation of internal use of information stolen from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, but also to newly revealed details of extensive cheating on professional training exams. On top of this, some of the testing circumvented by KPMG auditors relates to extra training required by the SEC as part of an enforcement order that KPMG settled in 2017 over audit failures for a client. Find out more at https://www.complianceweek.com/accounting-and-auditing/kpmg-fallout-cheating-allegations-raise-new-questions/27281.article
If something was seriously wrong at your company, would your staff tell you? The article prompts managers to ask themselves some hard questions about the whistle-blowing climate at their companies. By installing processes to answer these questions, senior leaders show greater commitment to internal whistle-blowing, which nudges middle managers to pay more attention to reports of unethical behaviour from lower-level employees. Also, managers often dismiss most whistle-blowing complaints as frivolous, which only deters employees from reporting. Employees may only notice pieces of a growing problem, not the whole ethical breach. Ignoring these reports at the “tip of the iceberg” creates a culture of silence, because employees think they must report more-complete cases of wrongdoing, which means fewer tip-offs. Management should reassure employees that, when they do report problems, someone higher up will take them seriously and investigate. Ultimately, the responsibility to build a pro-whistle-blowing culture lies with the board. Find out more at https://hbr.org/2017/02/managers-arent-doing-enough-to-encourage-whistleblowing
A record 18% of CEOs were replaced in 2018, with more top execs forced out for ethical lapses than were fired for poor performance or disagreements with their boards, according to a PwC study released on 15-May-2019. About 39% of the top execs dismissed had been accused of ethical lapses, according to the PwC study of turnover among the top 2,500 global public companies – the first time ethical lapses led the causes of CEO turnover in the study’s 19-year history. To find out more, go to
Data breaches, identity theft, online scams – every year, a destructive flood of fraud sweeps the world, leaving countless victims in its wake. New and improved tech only gives fraudsters an edge, making it easier for them to nab financial data from unsuspecting consumers. Swindlers and hackers stole $16bn from 15.4m U.S. consumers in 2016, according to Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2015 Identity Fraud Study. To make matters worse, the Identity Theft Resource Center reports 1,339 recorded data breaches in 2017 – a new record high. For tips to help you steer clear of the most common financial scams, read https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/041515/10-tips-avoid-common-financial-scams.asp
It’s vital for employees to voice their concerns when they see something worrying or unethical. But how do you make everyone understand that their voice is valued? For more insights, read this intriguing article at https://www.strategy-business.com/article/Create-a-workplace-where-everyone-feels-comfortable-speaking-up
Whistle-blowing is the most effective way of exposing wrongdoing. In 2 scientific studies (ACFE and PWC), whistle-blowers uncovered over 40% of all fraud cases, while law enforcement only detected 3%. Many of the cases of corruption, fraud and sexual abuse that we know about, have been exposed by workers who reported these issues to their employers, regulators or the media. It’s believed that more cases of fraud and corruption are exposed by whistle-blowers than any other roleplayer – including the police or the media. So whistle-blowers, and tools to protect them like FraudCracker and EthicsDefender, are vital for an anti-fraud program to succeed. Read more at https://lib.ohchr.org/HRBodies/UPR/Documents/session9/US/NWC_NationalWhistleblowersCenter_Annex2.pdf
Occupational fraud and abuse are causing financial losses in almost half of all firms, a survey from Mazars finds. The average loss per company surveyed, exceeded €10,000 (US$11,167 or ZAR160,362). And 12% of companies surveyed, suffered losses above €500,000 (US$558,345 or ZAR8,018,105) over the past 2 years. Theft of cash and goods was the main cause of losses, although cybercrime was seen as an growing threat. Read the full story at https://www.irishtimes.com/business/work/survey-finds-fraud-causing-financial-loss-in-almost-half-of-businesses-1.3897526
Bullying and sexual harassment are rampant in the legal profession. This is according to a new study on nearly 7,000 legal professionals in 135 countries, the largest-ever global survey of its kind. Today the International Bar Association (IBA) launched the ‘Us Too? – Bullying and Sexual Harassment in the Legal Profession’ report. Its findings are scary: bullying in legal workplaces affected 1 in 2 women and 1 in 3 men surveyed; sexual harassment impacted 1 in 3 female respondents and 1 in 14 male respondents. Read more at https://www.ibanet.org/bullying-and-sexual-harassment.aspx
Ask citizens why their countries aren’t developing, ask investors why they choose not to invest in some regions, and corruption is almost always the top reason. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent annually trying to eradicate fraud and corruption worldwide, yet it’s stubbornly pervasive. Corruption doesn’t result from a lack of ethics or knowledge; it’s a workaround chosen by people with few better options. So what can decrease its lure? For new ways to make progress, read this fascinating article at https://ideas.ted.com/can-corruption-ever-be-eliminated-in-the-world-boss-tweed-and-napster-show-a-counterintuitive-path-forward/.
Three psychological dynamics lead to crossing ethical lines: omnipotence, cultural numbness and justified neglect. These come into play when much bigger lines are crossed in corporates: corruption at Nissan, sexual harassment charges in the media, privacy breaches at Facebook, money laundering in the finance sector, and pharmaceuticals’ role in the opioid crisis. For most leaders, moral leadership is not just about acting in good or bad faith. It’s about navigating the big space in between. So how do you know when you, or your team, is on the road to an ethical lapse, and how do you prevent it? Find out more in the Harvard Business Review article at https://hbr.org/2019/04/the-psychology-behind-unethical-behavior
If you’re working at a Gupta-tainted company like KPMG, and they’re going through a public scandal, here’s the big question: should you stick it out, or should you leave? Find out more at https://hbr.org/2018/12/if-your-company-is-going-through-a-public-scandal-should-you-leave
Many people were involved in the spectacular downfall of once-buzzy Silicon Valley blood testing wunderkind, Theranos. But perhaps one of the people most integral to it all was Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes whistleblower Erika Cheung. The former medical researcher joined Theranos in 2013 and only stayed 7 months before exiting, but not before playing an integral part in uncovering many issues in the company’s blood-testing process. Find out more at https://www.refinery29.com/en-us/2019/03/227172/elizabeth-cheung-theranos-employee-interview-the-inventor
While the #MeToo Movement shone a global spotlight on the entertainment industry, it’s painfully clear that the problem is just as widespread in other industries. Sterling Jewelers Inc. is just one example of a company run on discrimination and abuse. For 1000s of women, America’s largest jewellery retailer, and its Zales, Kay and Jared stores, were hotbeds of sexual harassment, assault, unequal pay and discrimination. Back in 2005, two female workers took their concerns to employment lawyers, who set up a confidential toll-free number. 1000s of men and women countrywide phoned in, and it all came out. They spoke about groping, sexual coercion, rape and sexual degradation. The lawyers amassed over 200 sworn statements from staff who mostly didn’t know one another. What emerged was a list of individual horrors and degradations perpetrated against Sterling’s female staff. A system that allowed the abuse to grow and kept it from ever becoming known to other female staff or to the public. A system where men were consistently paid more than women and promoted more quickly. By 2015, the number of claimants stood at an astounding 69,000 women. Their lawyers pursued class action, thinking that a suit with such a large number of women stood a better chance of permanently changing the company-wide culture and policies of unequal pay and harassment, than individual lawsuits.
That lawsuit started almost 14 years ago. Fourteen years is a long time for a lawsuit to drag on with almost zero progress towards a resolution. And it’s a long time to wonder just how an enormous, publicly traded company could keep the details of its sickening working conditions from its shareholders and from the public, and why those dirty secrets might have been the company’s most valuable assets after all. This eye-opening exposé at https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/23/magazine/kay-jewelry-sexual-harassment.html is a must-read.
Procter & Gamble Co., one of the most important advertisers for Google and Facebook, ramped up criticism of internet platforms, saying the problems plaguing the industry aren’t getting fixed fast enough. In a speech at a recent industry conference, P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard blasted the digital media industry for lack of transparency, fraud, privacy breaches and violent and harmful content placed next to ads. He said his company, which spends billions of dollars on marketing products every year, would move its money to services that are completely free of offensive content. “We’ve been tolerant for too long,” Pritchard said. “It’s not acceptable to have brands showing up where opioids are being offered, where illegal drugs are promoted, where abhorrent behaviour is present or where violence is seen. The apologies are heartfelt and appreciated, but that’s not good enough.” Find out more at https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-04-12-pg-puts-ad-platforms-like-facebook-google-on-notice-2
The world is buzzing about Elizabeth Holmes. Her $9bn+ biotech company Theranos promised low-cost tech able to detect health ailments with just a few drops of blood from a fingertip. In reality, it endangered lives with its flawed and overhyped blood-testing tech. In the wake of massive fraud charges in 2018, Theranos went from Silicon Valley darling to a spectacular failure virtually overnight, shutting down in Sept-2018. And yet, in 2019, Theranos was granted 5 new patents! Clearly, there’s a disconnect between the legal world of IP, and the real world of science and business. Patents should definitely encourage innovation and outside-the-box creative thinking. But if unethical companies like Theranos are granted lots of patents, are patents really worth the cost and effort involved in getting them? Find out more in this intriguing article at https://www.cbinsights.com/research/theranos-patents-2019/
Thanks to research from GIBS (the Gordon Institute of Business Science, South Africa), companies can use the insights of convicted white-collar criminals to help protect themselves against the growing risk of white-collar crime. Find out more in this interesting article at
Our new EthicsDefender video is live. Take a look and let us know what you think!
P.S. Big shout-out to our voice-over and video team for a great job! Thanks guys.
Today 16th April is World Voice Day. Your voice matters! This is your day to make your voice heard, to not keep quiet about fraud and wrongdoing that you’ve seen, so that perpetrators can be stopped and we can make the world we live in a better place for our kids. This is exactly why we created FraudCracker.com
Looking at the recent protests in South Africa around the launch of Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State, one thing is clear: telling the truth and writing about corruption (and whistle-blowing about it) are dangerous but vital worldwide. In SA and worldwide, authors of controversial books are finding their launches disrupted by groups vehemently opposed to their views. Instead of debating the issues, they use intimidation, vandalism and threats of violence. PEN International found that such attacks on authors reveal a growing intolerance of different viewpoints and greater use of violence to silence these views. A repressive atmosphere leads authors and whistle-blowers to keep quiet, avoiding controversial topics. And that’s exactly why it’s vital to protect them from being silenced. We need to be vigilant about protecting them and their freedom to speak out, so that differing viewpoints and unpopular investigations can be aired in public, and wrongs can be made right.
Find out more in this fascinating article at https://m.news24.com/Columnists/GuestColumn/telling-the-truth-is-a-dangerous-occupation-20190411
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was expelled from his hideout in Ecuador’s embassy in London today and quickly arrested by London police amid concerns that he faces extradition to the U.S. WikiLeaks and Assange became famous in 2010 after the organization published government secrets leaked by U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning. More recently, the website was front and centre of the 2016 American presidential race after publishing hacked emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Find out more at https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-04-11-assange-arrested-after-ecuador-withdraws-asylum-protection/
In 2017, the New York Times broke the now widely-known scandal of media mogul Harvey Weinstein’s apparent decades-long pattern of sexual abuse and harassment. The story came as a shock to the public. However, as details emerged it became clear that Weinstein’s transgressions were not unknown to Hollywood insiders. They were, in fact, an “open secret.”
The big question is this: Why do issues remain open secrets in companies where many employees know about a problem, but no one publicly brings it up?
In studies published in the Academy of Management Journal, authors Insiya Hussain and Subra Tangirala found that, as issues become more common knowledge among frontline staff, the willingness of any individual employee to inform top-management dropped. Instead of speaking up, participants showed the bystander effect, a psychological phenomenon describing how people stay on the sidelines as passive bystanders, waiting for others to act, rather than doing something themselves.
But is the explanation as simple as this?
Find out more in this fascinating Harvard Business Review article at https://hbr.org/2019/01/why-open-secrets-exist-in-organizations