Selon Richard Leblanc*, juriste, consultant et chercheur en gouvernance, la grande responsabilité des échecs dans le domaine des affaires revient aux conseils d’administration, souvent complaisants et irresponsables.
On croit, souvent à tort, que les CA sont toujours alertes et qu’ils veillent aux intérêts de l’entreprise. Ce n’est pas toujours le cas !
L’auteur pense même que les « Boards » sont ultimement responsables des fraudes, malversations et manques d’éthique parce que souvent certains de leurs membres manquent d’une valeur essentielle au succès des entreprises : l’éthique.
Il règne même, à l’occasion, une culture qui favorise le comportement non-éthique à la grandeur de l’organisation.
Leblanc blâme sévèrement les administrateurs pour leur manque de vigilance à cet égard. Et, je crois qu’il a raison.
« Tone at the top » devrait être l’expression la plus utilisée dans le domaine de l’éthique et des comportements socialement responsables. En effet, il faut donner l’exemple et ça commence par les actions et les messages véhiculés par le conseil et par son président, le porte-parole du CA.
Voici un extrait de l’article paru dans le HuffPost Business le 31 mai 2015.
Bonne lecture !
« We didn’t know. » « We missed it. » « It was a rogue employee. » There is not an excuse I have not heard for ethical failure. But when I investigate a company after allegations of fraud, corruption or workplace wrongdoing, almost always there is a complacent, captured or entrenched board that did not take corrective action. In a few cases, boards actually encouraged the wrong-doing.
The first myth is that the board is a « good » board. There is no relationship between the « glow » or profile of directors and whether the board is « good. » Often times, there is an inverse relationship, as trophy or legacy directors typically lack industry and risk expertise in recognizing fraud or understanding what proper compliance looks like, are not really independent, are coasting and not prepared to put in the work, or they themselves may not possess integrity.
How important is integrity? Extremely. Three factors make for a good director or manager: competence, commitment and integrity, with integrity ranking first. Otherwise, you have the first two working against you.
Integrity needs to be defined, recruited for, and enforced. « Does your colleague possess integrity? » « Yes » is an answer to this perfunctory question. Full marks. But when I define integrity to include avoiding conflicts of interest, consistency between what is said and done, ethical conduct, and trustworthiness – and guarantee anonymity, I get a spread of performance scores. Those who do not possess integrity in the eyes of their colleagues are poison and should are extracted from any board or a senior management team. They never should have been elected or hired in the first place, which is a recruitment failure.
Fraud, toxic workplaces, bullying, harassment and pressure do not occur in a vacuum. Many people in the company know. The issue will not go away, will only get worse, and is a latent legal, financial and reputation risk.
For bad news to rise, boards need to ensure that protected channels exist and are used – including for a director or executive to speak up in confidence, and for an independent consequential investigation to occur.
Ethical reporting also needs to assure anonymity to the fullest possible extent to receive reliable information. If a whistle-blowing program has any manager as the point of contact, it is not effective. Whistle blowing, culture surveys, and ethics audits should be conducted independently and reported directly to the board without management interference.
Frequently, I find ethical design and implementation failure are the culprits, with codes of conduct, conflict of interest policies, whistle-blowing procedures, culture and workplace audits, and education and communication being perfunctory at best, overridden by management at worst, and not taken seriously by employees or key suppliers, with minimal assurance and oversight by the board.
à suivre …
*Richard Leblanc is a governance consultant, lawyer, academic, speaker and advisor to leading boards of directors. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @drrleblanc.