“I was very concerned that investors were being cheated out of millions of dollars and that the company was misleading them about its actions. Deception had become an accepted business practice.” – Phillips and Cohen’s Whisteblower
The SEC set a new record this month, announcing $30 million to be paid to the whistleblower who alerted them to the Phillips and Cohen scandal. It’s the largest payout ever.
It’s safe to say that the whistleblower was not the only one aware of what was going on. So why did no one else come forward to uncover the scandal? Was it fear of job loss? Intimidation? Maybe they were ok with the practices and therefore said nothing.
Integrity is at its best when the right decision is also the toughest decision. It requires courage to face the consequences, good or bad.
As ethical leaders, it’s vital that we look at the big picture of our actions and internalize how they will affect others. Imagine if the whistleblower had not spoken up… investors would have lost millions of dollars. This means they could have lost their homes, college tuition savings or retirement funds.
It’s unfortunate that we live in a time where, for some, the value of a dollar supersedes the value of integrity. Those people will do whatever is necessary to increase their income.
But that’s not the majority of leaders. Ethical leaders never allow greed to surpass moral character. And deception is never an accepted business practice.
Acting in the best interest of others is a reward in itself, but it also tends to come back around in the long run. The SEC’s new record-breaking award highlights the truth that honesty is not only the right thing to do, it’s also smart business.
As always… Ethics First!
– Ron Taylor
Student Programs and Development Specialist, NASBA Center for the Public Trust