Sometimes, we can afford to be patient

Organizations are made of people, so just like people they occasionally stumble and fall. For example, an organization will say that it treats its employees fairly but then, one day, it doesn’t. Now what?

The ethics officer’s job is to help the organization rectify the situation and ensure that apologies are made. Sometimes, this is not easy. Often, it takes time. In those situations, we must resist the temptation to rush to action, lest we inflict further injuries in the process (including injuries to ourselves).

When an organization makes a mistake, it is often because it did not involve the right people in making the original decision. The ethical leader does not repeat this same mistake when trying to correct the situation. She will, of course, proceed with all due speed but she will first make sure to include the right people, who will ask our two critical questions:

“Can we?” and “Should we?”

It may only take a second to know that something must be done, or even what precisely must be done. This doesn’t mean that it must be done immediately.

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