Saturday, July 6, 2019

Presenting E.T.H.I.C.S. for Leaders (Elevating Trust Has Inspired Customer Satisfaction)


From the Archives... 


Presenting E.T.H.I.C.S. for Leaders
(Elevating Trust Has Inspired Customer Satisfaction)
 © 2003-2019 Perry Binder

A version of this article first appeared in Professional Speaker magazine.
Reprinted:  The Human Resource; ASTD Atlanta Newsletter; Atlanta HR Leadership ForumAtlanta CPCU Newsletter

Do any of these statements ring familiar?
- In the old days, a deal could be done on a handshake.
- A person's word used to be as good as gold.
- The bottom line has become more important than people.

I recently spoke before a group of HR and insurance professionals about customers losing trust in their industry. As the pressure to produce increases, the industry seems to cut corners. Sadly, company communication is breaking down by ignoring the very backbone of the industry, the loyal clients.

Discussing the topic of ethics before a captive audience is a very delicate process. The presenter must strike the appropriate balance between making the audience comfortable by offering objective information in an energized and thoughtful manner, without excessive preaching about the importance of ethical behavior.

I believe that each of us has a strong moral compass which gets tested every day on the job. As a presenter, if I can provide concrete examples to an audience of how unethical behavior will adversely affect a company, I can then initiate a dialogue of ethical dilemmas in any industry. My goal is to give participants a frame of reference, not to instill ethical beliefs. By providing people with relevant analogies, hopefully they will develop the tools needed to prevent any unethical situations arising in a company setting.

I. The Erosion of Client Confidence
The recent explosion of bad faith lawsuits filed by dissatisfied customers is evidence of an erosion in confidence:
- An insurance company's delay and denial of a homeowner's claim for cleaning up toxic mold caused by a water leak led the client to sue the insurance company.

The result:
$6.2 million compensatory damages
$12 million punitive damages
$5 million for mental anguish
$8.9 million in attorney fees!!

- An insurance company's "No settlement stance" led a client to sue his automobile insurance company for bad faith.  The client had been in a car accident which led to the death of one motorist, and disabling injuries to another.  The company refused to settle for the policy limits of $25,000, in spite of overwhelming evidence of the client's fault in the accident.  This led to a jury verdict in excess of $25,000, thus exposing the client to personal liability.  The client then turned around and sued the insurance company for bad faith.

The result:  $2.6 million in compensatory damages and $145 million in punitive damages (The judge lowered the jury;s award to "only" $1 million in compensatory damages, and $25 million in punitive damages)

If the initial, knee-jerk reaction of a company is to turn its back on a client, all of the trust built over the years with that client is instantly lost.  Immediately, an adversarial relationship is created.  It is the very nature of confrontational environments which may plant the seeds of unethical behavior.

II. Leaders Need to Build Trust - the Key to Avoiding Ethical Dilemmas
 As a lighthearted analogy, I use an Aesop's Fable, where two buddies (insurance salesperson and client) are traveling together in the woods, when a bear rushes out in front of them.  On instinct, the salesperson grabs a tree branch and climbs a tree, stranding the client.  Ever resourceful, the client feigns death, knowing the bear won't eat dead meat.  After the bear sniffs close to the client's ear, it eventually leaves the area.  As the salesperson climbs down the tree, he laughingly asks the client:  "What did that big bad bear whisper?"  The client glares, then offers:  "He said, never trust a friend who deserts you in a pinch."

This issue of trust permeates any discussion of company ethics. It is a message which must start at the top, and is a number one priority in all company-customer relationships, as well as leader-team member relationships. 

III. Tips on Ethics for Every Leader
1. The role of the leader is to give team members a frame of reference with examples of unethical behavior.
2. Find specific cases of extreme ethical violations in your industry.  These examples will generate discussion on how solid communication and trust might have prevented an escalation of unethical behavior.
3. Humor will help you make a larger point.
4. Never put team members on the spot in a group setting.  The topic of ethics is so sensitive, that you should not put employees on the defensive.
5. Review with team members your company's Ethics Mission Statement.  If the company does not have such a statement, consider constructing one with team members' input.

Leaders must continually educate employees on company ethics. As indicated above, there are no quick-fixes to such an important topic.

Perry Binder, J.D.  is a legal studies professor in Georgia State University's Robinson College of Business in Atlanta, Georgia.  Professor Binder conducts seminars for large and small companies on a range of topics, including social media ethics, litigation prevention, and sexual harassment/discrimination.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Binder Training Law Topics, 2019

Looking forward to sharing my favorite topics for HR professionals and corporate employees this summer and Fall:

I. Leading By Example 
A. Ethics in the Workplace for Managers, Supervisors, and all Employees
-   B. Social Media in the Workplace
-   C. Re-Sensitizing Employees to Harassment and Discrimination Issues

II. Internal Controls: Protecting the Company’s Assets
A. Contracts - What managers and supervisors need to know about contracts
B. Intellectual Property - All employees must guard the company’s valuable brand
C. Minimizing External Business Risks with an Effective Document Retention Program

Monday, May 6, 2019

Great Time Speaking with 8th Graders / After School All Stars Atlanta


We did a simulated First Day of Class in College.  After going over the syllabus, we covered:

LEGAL ENVIRONMENT OF BUSINESS – First Day of Class

Theme 1: The Consequences of Winding up in Court
Theme 2: How to Protect Your Business Before Its Formation
Theme 3: Knowing Your Individual Legal Rights

Civil and Criminal Cases

Example of Civil Case: Negligence

1-      Does the defendant owe a duty to plaintiff?
2-     Did defendant breach that duty? ...
3-     By proximately causing …
4-     Damages

Palsgraf case and Proximate Cause
a-     Were the events foreseeable? or …
b-     Did the series of events break the chain of causation?

Example of Criminal Case: 4th Amendment

Warrant to search home - Police need probable cause, based on “objective, articulated facts.”

What is suppressed evidence?
-          It depends – Were the police lawfully present?

Exclusionary rule
-          Fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine

Monday, March 11, 2019

Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Data Mining in Class?




Great speaker today: My former student, Luis Ferrer-Labarca / Co-founder of BitcraftCrypto in Technology Law for Entrepreneurs class. Proud teacher moment! 
  

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Working on IP Initiatives with Georgia Governors



In October 2018, Governor Nathan Deal proclaimed IP Month in Georgia - the only state in the country with such a dedication.
The Georgia Intellectual Property Alliance (GIPA) looks forward to working with Governor Brian Kemp on similar projects for all regions and reaches of Georgia with IP education, conferences, economic development, and much more to benefit our citizens.
Click here for more information on GIPA Programs.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Social Media Article has 3,500+ Views


This was a fun article to write:
SMH! I Got Fired 4 FB Posts On My Device And Off Company Time? GTG #YOLO

Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” People worldwide affirm that statement daily with ill-advised social media posts in their professional and personal lives.
In 2007, the infancy of social media, I opened a Facebook account. With a bit of trepidation, I asked my students to add me as a “friend,” find inappropriate online content written by griping employees, post it to my wall and discuss it in class. Since then, I created several projects to educate students on appropriate uses of social media. Recently, I published these activities in a journal article, titled “Creating Social Media Law Projects to Sensitize Business Students to Appropriate Digital Conduct.
The article describes how social media promotes “instantaneous dissemination of thought, oftentimes without filter or reflection,” in “a participatory forum of real time information clutter.” My interactive projects are designed for students to recognize good from bad digital behavior and become 24/7 brand ambassadors for wherever they work, as well as for themselves.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Appointed Board Member of the Georgia Intellectual Property Alliance (GIPA)


GIPA improves society with a global model for the most efficient and effective IP ecosystem, facilitating the creation, protection & enablement of ideas that serve the common good. 
Part of my role: 
- Secured four Governor Proclamations, including Georgia IP Month (Oct. 2018) 
- Co-Founder/Co-Organizer: GIPA/GSU Corporate IP Institute, 2007-present