Fox News and Bill O’Reilly: ethical implications and our thoughts

The recent news of Bill O’Reilly’s firing from Fox can shed some light on the current status of most companies’ helplines for reporting abuse. Although we’d like to believe the contrary, helplines exist in obscurity and are often invisible to employees. Fox News and O’Reilly continue to lean on “no one has ever filed a complaint” through 21st Century Fox’s anonymous helpline. Perhaps that’s because none of the employees knows it exists. Even when it is well-known among employees, their reports can be used for retaliation rather than dealing with the issues at hand. According to a recent New York Times article, Fox employees stated that there was no mention of a helpline and during training, they recall: “basically they just give you scenarios where you have to determine if that constituted harassment.”

The reason Fox News fired Bill O’Reilly is because of the massive revenue loss they were experiencing from advertisers pulling their media dollars – as a result of advertisers feeling intense consumer social media pressure following the New York Times article. It is a vivid demonstration that good people can make bad companies do the right thing and that social media induced transparency is here, and powerful. Bad companies can simply no longer hide in the shadows.

The common denominators where things can go wrong – irrespective of industry or geography – include power, culture, ‘talent,’ revenues and management apathy. Sexual harassment is never a standalone ethical failure. I know, from first-hand experience, of eight employees who made whistle-blower reports about sexual harassment – and then saw their careers, annual review markings, pay and bonuses ‘drop off a cliff’ thus essentially preventing further reports through a ‘climate of fear.’

That’s why companies need holistic, integrated ethics and compliance systems, and the crucial insights that come from such integration. For example, Convercent’s Ethical cloud provides a complete view of every employee and supplier across the company based on data, and behavior. Then escalations create a new ‘climate of confidence.’

The global ethical transformation is here, and Convercent leverages the rapid communication changes in the market through technology to enable enterprises around the world live according to their ethics and values.