Compliance and Ethics in Review: September 27, 2018

The Latest and Greatest Industry News

The NBA’s workplace improvement efforts, potential EU antitrust violations from Amazon, global battles against corruption, and more.

Mark Cuban to Donate $10 Million in Lieu of Fine After NBA’s Investigation Into Workplace Misconduct

The workplace misconduct investigation into the toxic culture at the Dallas Mavericks organization has taken another turn: owner Mark Cuban has agreed to donate $10 million to organizations that promote women in leadership roles and work to combat domestic violence. This will wave the NBA’s fine, which is good news — the maximum fine the NBA can impose is only $2.5 million.

The investigating team also made several suggestions and requirements meant to improve the workplace, including:

  • Increase the number of women on staff, including in leadership positions,
  • Enhance formal reporting processes for victims of misconduct,
  • Implement regular anonymous employee surveys to evaluate workplace culture,
  • Enhance and update annual “Respect in the Workplace” training for all staff,
  • Expand and improve the Mavericks’ HR department, and;
  • Institute clear protocols for investigating workplace misconduct.

The Mavericks investigation has sent shockwaves throughout the NBA — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is even, “determined to bring about change.” According to several reports, he sent a memo to each of the organization’s 30 teams to suggest workplace reforms, an increase in the number of women hired, and improvements to how franchises handle harassment allegations.

Streaming company Spotify sued over sales team’s ‘boys’ trips’ to strip clubs

Last week, Hong Perez (a sales executive) sued Spotify, accusing the company of systemically discriminating against its female employees.

She alleges that her boss, and the head of sales, took his staff on, “drug-fueled “boys’ trips” to the Sundance Film Festival.” Women were excluded from the trips, even if they were more qualified. In her suit, Perez also states that another executive was promoted after receiving warnings for sexual harassment.

Perez’s claim of gender discrimination and defamation includes several additional accusations and was filed with the New York Supreme Court last week.

The EU is now going after Amazon after slapping Google and Apple with giant fines

During a press conference in Brussels last week, Margrethe Vestager (the EU’s competition commissioner), confirmed that her team has initiated a preliminary investigation into potential antitrust violations from Amazon. The company’s use of data from third-party sellers is being questioned, though this isn’t a full-blown formal inquiry.

Explaining the reasoning behind the inquiry, Vestager explains, “The question here is about the data, because if you as Amazon get the data from the smaller merchants that you host — which can be of course completely legitimate because you can improve your service to these smaller merchants — well, do you then also use this data to do your own calculations?”

It will be interesting to follow the developments of the case, especially in light of Google’s $5 billion fine from July 2018 for “anticompetitive practices.”

Four senior executives from Walmart join Flipkart

Walmart recently bought Flipkart, an Indian e-commerce behemoth, and changes are already underway.

Four senior executives from Walmart’s team have been appointed to the Flipkart Group. A new CEO is also being considered to lead the entire Group. Reports indicate that both internal and external candidates are being considered.

This isn’t the only big news out of India — Amazon has also purchased 49% of More, an Indian supermarket chain. More has over 540 physical supermarkets and hypermarkets across India, and Amazon’s decision emphasizes the growing influence of Indian commerce.

Argentina’s indictment of former president is great news — it also goes against corrupt business leaders

In this article, the Miami Herald discusses the implications of the recent indictment against Argentina’s former President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (who allegedly collected at least $69 million in bribes). The indictment is seen as a victory in the fight against global corruption, and not just because a high-ranking government official was implicated. It’s unique in that it also targets the “many business tycoons” who paid the President.

Nearly 50 former government officials, plus leaders in the business world (including top executives at some of the country’s largest construction companies), are facing corruption charges.


In this piece from the Ethics & Compliance Initiative (ECI), Patricia Harned (the ECI’s Chief Executive Officer) incredulously shares her reaction to a recent strike by McDonald’s employees. In 10 cities across the U.S., employees took to the streets to protest. They want McDonald’s leadership to take sexual harassment in the workplace seriously, with stronger policies, better training for managers, a better reporting infrastructure for incidents, and a dedicated committee for addressing sexual harassment issues.

As Patricia explains, employees clearly want their employers to do more to stop these problems. But, what should we do? The article linked above includes information about the ECI’s fall Best Practice Forum (BPF), where the theme is “Building a Respectful Workplace.”

You can also learn more from Patricia with Convercent — For more thoughtful insights on how compliance is making waves, don’t miss Patricia Harned’s general session Program Quality and Business Performance at CONVERGE18. Attendees can catch it on Wednesday, October 10 at 11:30 am – 12:15 pm.