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The ethics of speaking up… what would you do?

Wednesday 10 February, 2021
by Anonymous

You work in the finance department of a medium sized financial institution. It is end of month and employees across the organisation have submitted their monthly expense claims to you.

You can see there are a number of claims from a senior leader for an item not considered to be something the organisation would cover the cost of. You raise this verbally with your manager who says the same person has claimed for it previously and it wasn’t an issue.

Your manager insists you process the expense and reimburse the senior leader. This doesn’t sit well with you but you’re not sure what to do next. The organisation has a speak up program but having never used it yourself, you’re fearful of repercussions and feel it’s quite daunting to go down that route.

What would you do?

  • Would you defy the manager’s orders?
  • Would you speak to other team members as a sounding board, without revealing details or names?
  • What are some of the strategies you might use in this situation? Some of the issues at stake might be:
  • The consequences of not speaking up?
  • Potential reputational impact on the organisation and to your manager, the senior leader, and you.

We challenge you to create a healthy discussion with your colleagues and post a comment below. You could even encourage them to consider taking The Banking and Financial Services Oath!

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Photo by Antoine Barrès on Unsplash


There are 1 comments for The ethics of speaking up… what would you do?.

Re: The ethics of speaking up… what would you do?

Thursday 11 February, 2021
by Rae***
First, it is important to clarify whether the senior manager is aware s/he is breaching the expense reimbursement policy - ignorance needs to be ruled out (with an opportunity to correct behavior) before assuming a deliberate flouting of the rules. If ruled out, it is important to find someone senior with the courage to have a respectful conversation with the senior manager. As a leader, s/he sets the cultural tone of the organisation. Dishonesty and a lax or inconsistent approach to this policy sets the wrong example and suggests potential breaches elsewhere and an overall cultural problem. We know where that can lead organisations. The senior manager should be given an opportunity, explicitly, to address the behavior before penalty. Ultimately, without someone senior having the courage to confront this individual (courage = preparedness for retribution/career damage), the behavior will not change and may become endemic. It is not fair or appropriate for a junior person to take this on.

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