1 June 2020 | 18 Comments
Have you ever received or granted special treatment within your organization?
At the root of the problem of systemic issues (e.g., racism and sexism) are many, many factors. I can’t even begin to understand or list all of those factors. Despite my focus on inclusion, I fully acknowledge that I’m part of the problem too, and I’m striving not to be (and to be better informed and to be part of the solution).
Of those many factors, there’s one that I’d like to offer my perspective on today, something to consider for my fellow entrepreneurs, creators, and leaders. It seems to me that nothing good comes of an organization trying to protect employees who have acted unethically, immorally, and even illegally.
Historically, we’ve seen this across a vast number of organizations, many of them in positions of power and authority: Law enforcement, military, religious institutions, corporations, governing bodies, etc. An employee, coworker, or boss does something terribly wrong, and instead of confronting the issue in the same way you would with someone outside the organization, you cover it up or transfer them (or, in the case of the officers complicit in killing George Floyd, fire them instead of charging them with murder).
Another way to put it is to remember whom you’re here to serve. I care deeply about the people Stonemaier Games employs (1 other full time and 2 part time) and contracts (many independent contractors), and I’m at least partially responsible for some of their income, health care, and happiness. But ultimately, our collective goal is to serve our customers by bringing joy to tabletops worldwide. If the actions of an employee, contractor, or myself prevents us from achieving that goal, that’s a problem.
I understand that it’s the instinct of people in power–even those with the best intentions–to protect their employees. That’s my instinct too. But in the rare cases when there is the possibility that someone isn’t serving our customers or acting ethically, I try as hard as possible to put aside those instincts and view the situation impartially.
It goes the other way too. I want the people with whom I work to challenge me if they ever think I’m acting in poor faith. And they have! They know not to give me special treatment.
I honestly think that if all organizations acted impartially and responsibly whenever a member of that organization screws up, the world would be a much better place. Let’s hold ourselves and the people we work with to a higher standard, not exempt them from the same ethics we expect from strangers. I’m not saying this would even come close to solving systemic issues, but I believe it is one piece to a much larger puzzle.
How do you approach or address bad behavior within your organization?
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