Boston is today a city of tragedy but also great hope. We’ve all looked with horror at videos and photos of the recent bombings in Boston, but also at the heroic reactions of ordinary citizens who came to the rescue and the first responders who at great personal risk walked boldly into harm’s way. These events brought to mind the famous Boston Tea Party of 1773, when normal, everyday people stepped up when they saw wrong happening and took action. Their party was by no means a festive event, and of course neither were the acts committed at the Boston Marathon.
These events in Boston – a Tea Party and a Marathon – show how the engagement of people can make a difference, leading to healing, recovery and driving forward the tenacious quality of hope and good will, of right action over wrong. This even in the face of the most unethical acts one can imagine.
Across the world, in homes, churches as well as in places of commerce, people saw what took place in Boston and know that they, too, can make a difference. For employees, engagement in the ethics and compliance program of their businesses does matter, and they should know it does. Using the sound principles of employee engagement in their compliance programs, companies must make their workforce aware that coming forward, whether it’s to report suspected fraud, discrimination, ethics violations or corporate malfeasance, can and does make a difference. That’s their Boston Tea Party. That’s how they react to their Marathon bombing.
We shouldn’t doubt the inherent good in most people. Engagement is so very important to maintaining an ethical culture throughout the world. Companies are realizing that, too, but sometimes struggle to balance profitable business with ethics. It can be as simple as offering training on insider trading or harassment, or top-down communications that emphasize that retaliation will not be tolerated. All of these seem minor in light of what happened in Boston, but it does add up. And it makes it clear to other employees that their voices can and will be heard.
Implementing employee engagement focused compliance programs can help everyone see that they do matter, and organizations gain the capacity to correct issues before they happen and protect their business and workforce from future occurrences.
Bad things happen to many people because of the actions of a few, but it’s the actions of the many that can tamp down the impact of the few, as long as there is willingness toward engagement.