The “CYA” Factor
A serious impediment to creating an environment of trust
By Frank Bucaro
Why is it that one can preach ethics, work on an ethics code, and maybe even be an ethics or compliance officer and yet when it comes to actually doing the ethical thing when a violation is reported, seemingly the first reaction seems to be “how do I CYA?”
What is it that seemingly separates what we know is truly wrong and the overwhelming need to protect our own “behind” so to speak, when push comes to shove?
Why is it that whistleblowers, more often than not, are forced to pay a huge price, personally and professionally, for “doing the right thing”? Weren’t they trained and encouraged to do so with the guarantee of anonymity, no retaliation, etc.? This goes against the logic of ethics training and being ethical.
Here are a few of my questions from an ethical perspective:
- Why aren’t we rewarding whistleblowers instead of attacking and punishing them for “doing the right thing?”Is it “CYA”?
- Why do we really need a “whistleblower law” if we all believe that good ethics is good business or is the whistleblower law a result of maybe the “CYA”of an organization?
- Wouldn’t it be more cost effective to reward a whistleblower than to deal with lawsuits, fines and huge payouts to the whistleblowers when all they wanted to do was the right thing?
- When fear of losing a job undermines morale, ethics training, and codes of conduct for reporting an ethical/compliance issue, what does that really said about the corporate environment and culture, leadership, etc? This is another example of personal “CYA?”
Help me make some ethical sense of why the “CYA” factor is so prevalent in spite of all the training, all the emphasis on promoting ethics, of all the codes of conduct, of all the hotlines, and all the promises of no retaliation, how can the concept “CYA” be condoned and not punished?
Frank Bucaro is an ethics expert. His website is located here.