Compliance and Ethics in Review: March 6, 2019

The Latest and Greatest Industry News

The world’s most ethical companies, a dream of ending forced arbitration, public disclosure of pay gaps based on ethnicity, and more.

Join the Convercent team for a weekly review 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.

Ethisphere Releases the 2019 World’s Most Ethical Companies® Honoree List

Every year, Ethisphere releases its list of the world’s most ethical companies. In 2019, 128 companies have been recognized for, “exemplifying and advancing corporate citizenship, transparency and the standards of integrity.”

Several of the honorees are Convercent customers, and we’re thrilled to help these organizations continue to drive ethics to the center of business for a better world!

Cementos Progreso, S.A
Arthur J. Gallagher
Johnson Controls Inc
Kimberly Clark Corp
ON Semiconductor Corp
Owens Corning
T-Mobile USA Inc.
Thrivent Financial
University Hospitals

Thailand defends cybersecurity law amid concerns over rights, abuse

When the GDPR came into effect in May of 2018, ethics and compliance experts around the world predicted that more data privacy legislation would follow. However, Thailand’s controversial new cybersecurity law probably isn’t what they envisioned.

Despite outcry from the international community, lawmakers continue to defend the legislation. Ajarin Pattanapanchai, permanent-secretary of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society, claimed to reporters, “We have made sure that it would not allow for violation of individuals’ rights and arbitrary use of power.”

Employees won’t tolerate inaction on sexual harassment — even for higher pay

According to a new study of 540 full-time employees, 79% of the respondents would not accept a job with a higher salary from a company that failed to act in response to a report of sexual harassment.

That’s not the only ethical stand employees are taking, either:

  • 76% wouldn’t join a company offering a higher salary that sells personal data without users’ knowledge.
  • 72% wouldn’t accept a job with an employer who endangers the environment.

What can companies like yours learn from information like this?

Clearly, it’s vital to act on the cases that employees report. If your helpline could use some help of its own, check out this handy infographic: 8 Key Steps to Develop and Maintain a Successful Helpline.

15 UK companies have volunteered to report their ethnicity pay gaps

The Bank of England and 14 other UK organizations have announced they will begin voluntary reporting of any gaps in pay between employees based on ethnicity. The announcement is surprising, but it is fitting — approximately one year ago the UK mandated that all companies with 250 or more employees must report their gender pay gaps.

The 14 additional signatories of the pledge include large and well-known companies such as Citigroup, Deloitte, EY, KPMG, Lloyds of London, Santander, Sodexo, and others.

Google employees fought for their right to sue the company — and won

Recently, Google decided to end mandatory arbitration for employees. A contractual obligation to take disputes to private arbitration is a common business practice, but Google’s decision could be good news for employees throughout the U.S.

As Vox explains, “The latest policy change at Google shows that tech workers are willing to use their influence to reverse a decades-long trend that silences millions of American workers. And their success paves the way for tech workers at other Silicon Valley firms to demand the same.”

Now, some Googlers are setting their sights beyond their company: Six Google employees have joined U.S. lawmakers to support bills that would ban mandatory arbitration in employment and consumer contracts. One of the bills is titled the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, and it would ensure individual and class-action lawsuits are options in workplace disputes.

Calif. Justice Dept. paid $1.1 million for harassment claims filed while Harris was AG: report

This story out of California shows how intertwined business, politics, and ethics can be in our increasingly connected world. The Los Angeles Times recently reported that the California Justice Department paid more than $1.1 million in response to sexual harassment and misconduct claims that were made between 2011-2017. Democratic presidential hopeful, Kamala Harris, was the state’s attorney general at the time.

A spokesperson for Harris says that she was unaware of the payouts. Regardless, she takes responsibility for what happened under her watch: “As the chief executive of a department of nearly 5,000 employees, the buck stopped with me. No one should face harassment or intimidation in the workplace, and victims of sexual misconduct should be listened to, believed and protected.

It’s too early to tell whether this news will impact Harris’s candidacy, but it is refreshing to see a leader take responsibility for misconduct.

Wynn Resorts Fined $20 Million Over Handling of Steve Wynn Misconduct Claims

Even though sexual misconduct claims have caught up to several powerful men in the wake of the #MeToo era, most companies have avoided regulatory fines for their mismanagement of accusations. Wynn Resorts hasn’t been so lucky, and the Nevada Gaming Commission has fined the organization $20 million for ignoring multiple complaints about founder Steve Wynn’s behavior.

It’s the largest fine ever imposed on a gaming license in Nevada. According to one legal expert, the commission’s involvement demonstrates, “the cultural shift that has caused these matters to be taken seriously as issues of corporate governance as well as individual behavior.”