Compliance and Ethics in Review: September 18, 2018

The Latest and Greatest Industry News

JP Morgan Chase and corporate social responsibility, the EU’s new Copyright Directive, building a code of ethics that sticks, and more.

Each week, Convercent highlights some of the top stories and most newsworthy events in the ethics and compliance industry. The focus is global, but you might be surprised by how relevant these stories are, both across borders and businesses.

JPMorgan Chase Launches AdvancingCities, a $500 Million Initiative to Create Economic Opportunity in Cities

Corporate social responsibility has been on our minds at Convercent lately, and we certainly aren’t the only ones: JPMorgan Chase recently announced AdvancingCities. It’s a $500 million, 5-year initiative designed to foster, “inclusive growth and create greater economic opportunity in cities across the world.” The model has seen success in Detroit, Chicago and Washington, D.C., and, “combines the firm’s lending capital, philanthropic capital and expertise to make investments in cities.”

Ask yourself and your organization, “How can we help make our community a better place?” Chase’s $500 million budget is certainly helpful, but no one knows a community better than the people who live and work there.

Amazon Investigates Employees Leaking Data for Bribes

While fighting to end fake reviews and other scams, Amazon discovered that certain employees are likely leaking data and taking bribes. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Employees of Amazon, primarily with the aid of intermediaries, are offering internal data and other confidential information that can give an edge to independent merchants selling their products on the site.” The issue is more common in China than the U.S., where seller competition is fierce and employee salaries are generally low.

Here’s how the scam allegedly works: Brokers (who act as a middleman between Amazon employees and sellers) offer anywhere from $80 to more than $2,000. In return, the employees share internal sales metrics, reviewers’ email addresses, and even a service to delete negative reviews and restore banned Amazon accounts.

EU Passes Controversial Copyright Law With ‘Link Taxes’

Last week, the European Parliament approved the controversial Copyright Directive. Under this new directive, publishers must pay a “link tax” when sharing anything more than “insubstantial” portions of other publishers’ content. Additionally, any website that invites users to upload content must have a filter that checks the uploaded content against a database of copyrighted materials.

Not surprisingly, there are both vocal critics and passionate supporters on both sides. Critics argue that the directive will be nearly impossible to implement, and “rampant censorship” will likely follow. On the supporting side, Germany’s Axel Voss stated, “I am convinced that once the dust has settled, the internet will be as free as it is today, creators and journalists will be earning a fairer share of the revenues generated by their works, and we will be wondering what all the fuss was about.”

The Copyright Directive won’t be immediately effective, and negotiations with individual EU Member states are currently in play ahead of another vote in January. It will be interesting to see how the directive plays out, especially since organizations are still feeling reverberations from scrambling to meet the GDPR’s requirements.

IBM Is Being Sued for Age Discrimination After Firing Thousands

Companies often focus on their hiring practices, but how employees are fired is also an important part of an organization’s internal culture. Now, tech behemoth IBM is in the cross-hairs for its own firing practices.

On September 17, 2018, three former IBM employees filed a federal class action lawsuit. According to the plaintiffs, IBM exercised age-based discrimination in their firing: “Over the last several years, IBM has been in the process of systematically laying off older employees in order to build a younger workforce.” A company spokesman begs to differ, stating, “Changes in our workforce are about skills, not age … In fact, since 2010 there is no difference in the age of our U.S. workforce, but the skills profile of our employees has changed dramatically.”

This could be an interesting case to follow, though a judge still needs to determine whether the case will proceed.

Why you need a code of ethics (and how to build one that sticks)

The introduction to this insightful piece says it all: “Most companies aren’t run by mustache-twirling villains who abuse customer data for the thrill of it. In practice, they take incrementally more unethical steps, lured by the siren song of profits. Can a digital code of ethics stop the creep?”

In this article, Convercent’s Katie Smith joins other experts to discuss the importance of a code of ethics, plus how to draft a code that actually works. She shares the three major structures companies must have in place if they want to create a speak-up culture, so be sure to read the article if you’re in need of some actionable tips.