Two weeks ago I threw a question out to our studio audience. Actually, this all started a short time before that when a question was posted as a comment to an earlier post. The question had nothing to do with my original post, but it was intriguing nonetheless. And that was the question I provided to all of you.
You can read the question yourself
(and you might want to, because the way it is written can be open to interpretation) but here is what I gleaned from it. A blogger (I am assuming blogging for the company) is being provided false information by employees who are, shall we say, out to get another employee. Apparently, someone from the C-suite is about to be involved. The poster stated “My advice…would be [for him] to contact the senior [executive] before committing something unethical or unlawful.”
[And now a little insight into the mind of this blogger.]
After typing those first two paragraphs, I continued to fill a page with my thoughts. I went on at some great length about what I thought the issues were, how they might be handled, and how it all might apply to Internal Audit. And I’m willing to bet you would have gotten really bored reading it, because I was getting really bored typing it. More insight: I once had a teacher in “Social Anthropology” (I can’t even remember what the heck that meant) give me a “D” on an essay test with the comment “The first two sentences are correct. After that, it is all gobbledygook”. I have tried to remember that comment over the years. After deleting the paragraphs and with that professors words ringing in my ears, I realized the answer was quite simple.
Step up and do whatever it takes to keep someone from falling into that trap.
And after that short, simple response, I do need to add in one more thought about the situation as described. This looks to be more than a batch of Merry Pranksters joining Ken Kesey on a tour of the US on “Further” the psychedelic bus. Rather, it looks to be more like a roving gang of employees on a rampage of vitriolic abuse, systematic sabotage, and pure destruction. This is the type of thing upon which bad horror movies and worse sitcoms are based. And it is no joking matter. If there is a company hot line, then calls should be made. If not, then an executive who can be trusted should be contacted. However, the answer is still much the same as that stated above (but given with a significantly greater amount of gravitas); step up and do whatever it takes to protect the company from this larger problem.
And you want a lesson for all the auditors out there? Step up and do whatever it takes to make sure the right things are done.
Which answers another question that came to my mind when I saw the posting - is this really an auditing question? Well, I don’t know about your audit shop, but we get these kinds of questions in our department. People see us as having a good understanding of ethics, so we often have people come looking for suggestions on how to handle ethical situations. You see, it is my personal feeling that it is Internal Audit’s responsibility to set the ethical standards for the company. And receiving these types of questions is just one of the measures of success.
Had any good questions lately?