Limitations to Your Rights as a Citizen Okay I know some of this is written specifically into your contract but I am just making sure you understand. I wouldn’t want you saying the wrong thing and embarrassing somebody. This should be read in conjunction with: ‘Putting your job ahead of your family’.
You will put your role as a corporate employee ahead of your role as a citizen. You will not make known to anybody any corporate legal, ethical, moral or ecological transgressions. Specifically you are not to speak to the media or anyone who might actually do something about it.
What you can do! If you absolutely must speak out then present the problem weakly to a superior who will tell you how to think about the issue. Then with a nod and wink to your superior let them know you are savvy, to be trusted and therefore possible management material. Do not do this often as you may not appear to have sufficient moral and intellectual control … the kind required for an executive role. If you do this repeatedly you will be labelled and sent to ‘special projects’.
Definitely Don’t Do This! Speak out loudly or publicly. You will be treated as a whistle blower. The whistleblower is the natural enemy of all corporations. You can expect to be belittled, harassed and to find your career and probably your life in the toilet. You may be briefly acknowledged in a current affairs program before being attacked by a company representative or a politician before being forgotten. Your best chance of survival is a move to something that supports the rights of citizens . Remember that is very risky and you will need to be very skilled, talented and courageous (See Andrew Wilkie). It will still make your life difficult and why make your life difficult?
You are not to express any support for ideas or recommendations that are deemed not in the interests of the corporation (even if they are!). This includes anything that might embarrass somebody senior to you. They get to decide what is embarrassing. Also includes matters of professional opinion. If you are made of the right stuff then with time you will come to see that the corporation is right and you will feel comfortable misrepresenting and arguing for positions that are not in the best interests of your community. If you become good enough at this you will be head of PR or be promoted to another executive position. Select from the following sample list those topics for which you should show no or only token (PR) support. The list will vary with your organisation:
- The environment generally
- Climate change
- Market or corporate regulation
- Corporate Tax
- Anything that can be defined as left wing
- Anything socially progressive
- Health and wellbeing
- Other: _________________
How can you deal with these topics socially?
Learn to dissociate yourself from them and use derogatory and stereotyped labels if you must give token support. This is generally acceptable, “ I’m not a greenie but …..”; “I’m not a feminazi but …”; “I’m not a leftie but …”, “I’m not for big government but ….”. Conceding the occasional point when it doesn’t matter will make you seem more balanced and rational. This will convince others that you are also playing the role of the citizen.
Select the right charities to support such as anything to do with children, cancer and disasters (Be careful if you work for a pharmaceutical, insurance corporation). Charities allow you to exercise your rights as a citizen while still being the corporate role model.
Do nothing about the above unless you have to: From time to time you will read about corporations that do not subscribe to some elements of ‘the small print’. These companies CEOs and employees that will bang on about how great it is, how innovative they are and how they made more profit while people flourished! You will enhance your status as ‘leader’ if you know about these ‘case studies’. You are to treat these businesses as the exception and not the rule. Should ideas become popular enough you may need to implement something (Management by Objectives, Quality Management, Balanced Scorecard, Customer Service, Leadership etcetera). Don’t despair, be selective. Just use a mix of ‘defensive strategies, PR and new change management strategies so that attitudes will remain at appropriately skeptical and cynical levels. Throw in a restructure. There will be enough practical changes to seem successful. The important things will return to normal soon enough. Remember that eventually these ‘fancy’ corporations will be purchased by older, predatory, anti-competitive, larger corporations. Once they have digested the ‘fancy’ organisation into their structure and balance sheet, the new management will ensure that any competitive advantage the ‘fancy’ corporate culture enjoyed is extinguished. Just don’t review the success of corporate purchases and how much value has been destroyed. Remember once you purchased the business, you won.
Peter O’Reilly ©