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Business & Life Skills

A Liar and Thief that Teaches Business Ethics

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PrisonWhat has the world come to when a thief becomes one of the leading experts in business ethics?  Think about it.  Why do Fortune 500 companies hire computer hackers?  It’s because a hacker has first hand experience of the mindset and our human frailties needed to commit  a crime. Chuck Gallagher, author of “Second Chances: Transforming Adversity into Opportunity” explains his journey from being Inmate #11642-058 to now wearing a pin stripe suit back in corporate America.  CJ asks all the questions you’d want to ask a criminal,  but were afraid to ask. A great show to listen to if you have a skeleton in your closet (big or small) and are seeking redemption.

Show Summary

  • Segment 1: What was the crime Chuck Gallagher committed?  What are the 3  patterns that every deceitful act  (stealing, cheating, etc) starts with? Did Chuck ever fear being caught? What gave Chuck the  hubris to feel he was untouchable? 
  • Segment 2: Did Chuck Gallagher ever feel remorse or shame about his actions?  What was running through his mind during his lowest moments?  What was the advice given by a stranger that turned his whole life around?
  • Segment 3: Every major transformation is preceded by some miracle. What was Chuck Gallagher’s miracle?  What is his advice for anyone who is reached their lowest low?  Why was prison the best thing that could have happened in Chuck’s life?
  • Segment 4: It’s easy to judge another and point fingers. What introspection would Chuck Gallagher ask of you?  

Blog Post by our Guest

Whistleblower Tips: The Best Defense to Prevent Ethical Lapses by Chuck Gallagher

Statistics indicate that 42 percent of the time frauds occurring in companies are discovered by someone “tipping” off someone else about the fraud or the possibility of ethical lapses.

I am often amazed that it is that high, for all too often we want to look the other way, or we are afraid to confront those committing the fraud. I completely understand the hesitancy; many of us are afraid to rock the boat. What we often fail to realize is that the person committing the fraud is putting us in danger as a company even before we say anything.

Marcy J. Maslov recently wrote an online article (May 15, 2013) for Corporate Compliance Insights entitled: “Ethics in the Workplace: If You See Something, Say Something — Or Not?”

Ms. Maslov used the example of a stockroom manager taking his toolbox home each evening and using the tools for private use. Then in the morning he brings the toolbox back seemingly intact. Sounds as though it’s all pretty harmless, doesn’t it?

As Ms. Maslov explains, it is not quite as harmless as it might first appear.

Certainly it is unethical for the manager to take something that is not his or hers to take. But what if you saw it happen? What if you saw the toolbox leave the company under the arm of the manager? What if the manager was your boss? What if, you were working the late shift and actually needed one of those tools?

As the article states: “We decide not to get involved because the end result is that the toolbox is returned.  No harm, no foul, so there’s no reason for us to report this or intervene in any way.”

Let us move away from the toolbox scenario and place it in more of an office environment. Instead of a toolbox, suppose it was an office manager who took home her small printer every evening to do envelopes for her side business? Suppose it was a marketing manager who liberated a computer monitor on the weekends?

At what point would we stop looking the other way? At what point would it not be OK? Is there a “dollar amount” that we would never like a co-worker to exceed in terms of overnight theft? For example, suppose a marketing administrator steals a few reams of paper to print up manuals for her school’s parent-teacher organization. That might be sort of OK with us. Suppose then, that the same co-worker liberated a few “forgotten computers” from an office storeroom to teach a computer class on the weekends? This would probably not be acceptable – and we might say something, sort of–.

Is there a situation where we might object if a “vital element,” were borrowed? Let’s imagine the same administrator in a teaching hospital trotting off with a piece of common office equipment that is returned each morning. Now let us imagine the administrator can gain access to a spare, portable EKG monitor for the local volunteer ambulance corps to use for their weekend shifts? We might have a real big problem with that one — and we might be very tempted to snitch, or would we?

The Fear and the Policy

As I teach in my seminars and as Ms. Maslov echoes in her article is that in reality, ethical missteps are all the same because they will eventually lead to the same outcome. “Borrowing’ the toolbox, the reams of paper, the printer and even the portable EKG are all the same thing. Whether the person “borrowing” is our boss, our best friend, a company vendor or contractor, it is all the same.

We had better define our terminology before going any further; the word borrow means: To obtain or receive (something) on loan with the promise or understanding of returning it or its equivalent.

Does anyone reading this truly believe that the head nurse of an emergency department would say to the administrator: “By all means, you have my permission to borrow the EKG, it’s only a spare?” Would the Vice President of Marketing say to their staff, “It’s OK for you to take home your printers on the weekends?” In both cases it seems implausible that permission would be granted even if promises were expressed in writing. But even the lowly toolbox has no business being borrowed.

It is not a question, necessarily, of the tools being promptly returned each morning; it is not even a matter of the person who borrowed the toolbox replacing a broken tool with something better.

The toolbox is not his to borrow. It belongs to the company. It should be reported as missing. If the person borrowing the toolbox is your boss, he should still be reported; as should the person borrowing a piece of office or medical equipment.

Here’s the tricky part: there must be an iron-clad policy well in place, and it must be well established. The policy must be widely disseminated. It is for the protection of the company of course, but also for the protection of the employee who witnesses the violation of policy and even to remind the person “borrowing” what to expect if caught. The reporting of an incident must be able to “go up the ladder” as easily as down. For example, a hospital janitor witnessing the head of thoracic surgery “borrowing” a piece of equipment should be able to report the violation without fear. The head of thoracic surgery should expect to receive punishment and it must be enforced.

If no written policy exists, then there is nothing to protect the worker who is reporting a violation. If no written policy exists there is no differentiation between borrowing and stealing. More than that, there is no consistency.

The best defense to prevent ethical lapses is a strict, iron-clad policy that is enforced and re-enforced.  It is one policy applicable to everyone and the punishment must be evenly applied. The best defense is to create not an atmosphere of “snitching” but an atmosphere of personal accountability.

Anything else, is just borrowing.

What is your opinion?

 About our Guest

chuck-gallagherYou may have seen Chuck on television, or heard him on CNN, CBS or NPR radio programs.  His business insights are sought after for his strong position on ethics and ethical leadership. Chuck’s focus is business—but his passion is empowering others.  His unique presentations on Business Ethics clearly demonstrate he brings something to the platform that isn’t often found in typical business speakers.  Chuck’s personal experience in building businesses and sales teams while leading companies provides a practical and powerful framework for ethical success.

Currently COO of a national company and former Sr. VP of Sales and Marketing for a public company, Chuck may have found a sales niche early on in life selling potholders door to door, or convincing folks to fund a record album of his musical performance at age 16 (and yes those were the days when an album was made of vinyl), but it was the school of hard knocks that provided a fertile training ground for Chuck’s lessons in success.  Described as creative, insightful, captivating, and a person that “connects the dots” between behavior, choices and success,Chuck gives his clients what they need to turn concepts into actions and actions into results.

With Chuck you have an industry professional sharing practical tested and time proven methods that can enhance personal and professional performance.  What Chuck shares in his presentations, whether trainingkeynotes or consulting, are understandings of not only “how to”, but also “what motivates behavior”—behavior of individuals that can create personal and professional success.

On a nationwide basis, Chuck has helped countless individuals on their journey to success!  So here’s the question: Do you want your personal performance or your company’s performance to improve?  If so, Chuck offers a “real world” practical approach to improving your understanding of how to achieve ethical choices!   Now is the time to book Chuck and take the steps needed to improve yourself and grow your business, thereby achieving your success!

And yes, Chuck’s programs are GREAT FUN!  He’ll have your audience asking for more and knowing that what is discussed today will yield results tomorrow!