Something to think about over the weekend

As I reflect on the outcomes of this week from the Jimmy Savile Review carried out by Dame Janet Smith and the further statements made by Lord Tony Hall and Rona Fairhead I think we all agree there are a number of lessons to be learned by the BBC.

I then got to thinking further about the outcomes and if I removed the personalities and the company name I realised the lessons to be learned could easily apply to many organisations across any business sector today:

  • The organisation was too hierarchical – making it difficult for individual complaints to be heard high enough up the organisation.
  • The organisation was too focused on reputation and was self-absorbed rather than being concerned about child protection. If I flip that slightly another way, what about employee protection?
  • A macho-culture with a lack of diversity on its board and in senior roles, where diverse group of employees did not feel they had a route to complain.
  • Lack of cohesion between departments, too much of a silo mentality that patterns of behaviour were missed.
  • “Talent” were given privileges and were deemed to be untouchable.
  • A culture of not complaining, which bred a culture of fear and threats that if people did complain, they could lose their job.

I bet if you reflect on these points many, if not all could apply to either a business you know today or have worked in previously?

And while we think of those organisations, I believe as business leaders and HR professionals we need to think also of some of the actions the BBC have said they will do. Does your organisation need to think about them too?

  • Complaint handling: Do your employees and workers feel safe enough to complain, do they really know how to complain, where to complain to and do they really believe they will be listened to? Or do you have the default position of we don’t have bullying or harassment in the organisation? We don’t have complaints, we are all happy here.
  • Do you have a robust Whistleblowing Strategy and policy in place? When was the last time it was reviewed? Has it ever been invoked? How would your organisation treat the complainant?
  • How are your investigations handled? Have you got an independent case handler or do you just hand it to someone in the organisation to glance over? How many of your complaints are upheld? Do your investigators feel empowered to uphold a complaint and to really bring forward the issues to senior management and leaders? Or are issues just swept under the carpet for fear to retaliation.
  • Is your “Talent” deemed untouchable? Does your “Talent” have privileges that others can’t enjoy? Do they themselves believe they are untouchable? Take a look at their behaviours and listen to what other have to say about them.
  • What about your culture? Are all your employees, workers, freelancers, contractors all treated the same? Are they all treated fairly? Is one group deemed to be higher or lower in the hierarchical pecking order? What words are used to describe your organisational structure?
  • Do you welcome feedback from everyone? Is feedback listened to? How engaged is your workforce? Have you ever asked your workforce for feedback?

So while some of you maybe still tut tutting about the outcomes of the review, maybe you should actually be holding a mirror up at your own organisation and really taking a look at the reflection. Is it one you really want to see?