Yesterday, one of my closest friends and mentors asked if I was going to write about what to do with all the predators in the industry.

Yes, I am. And here’s what struck me the most as a small business owner: 

Amidst the replies in Bob Lefsetz mailbag was this extremely important message, which could be easily missed amongst the horrific stories –

There is no system in place for women to bring these complaints. And, after the Time’s Up movement came to light, not ONE label came forth with a position, or stating what processes they would put in place to make sure women are protected, and that things are fair, and/or a protocol to deal with such issues.

This doesn’t just apply to labels, but all companies. There is an opportunity right now, especially for the companies with the most experienced human resource divisions, to publicly share policies and protocol for dealing with these issues so other companies can learn from them and create a safe work environment and industry for all.

The land mines of disrespectful and inappropriate behavior my future wife and her powerful female friends have dealt with on their rise is unacceptable, and the next generation should not live in fear of sharing their story, being held back, manipulated, or harassed by their male colleagues.

As owners and leaders, male and female, this is our opportunity. We can use what has happened as a pedestal to take a stand by establishing clear processes to help prevent these situations from happening in the future. Or at least from happening without significant consequences.

If you don’t own your business, this is not the time to stand idle –  you can send the message to your leader. You can open the conversation. Maybe in certain transparent workplaces, you can even help write the first draft of the policies and garner enrollment from the team to support them into action.

There are lots of ways to go about making the change. It’s time to take a stand. What are you going to do about it?

Here are six elements of a proper ethics and compliance program to help start the conversation.

The Six Elements of an Ethics and Compliance Program

  • Written standards of ethical workplace conduct.
  • Training on standards.
  • Company resources that provide advice on ethics issues.
  • A process to report potential violations confidentially or anonymously.
  • Performance evaluations of ethical conduct.
  • Systems to discipline violators.

Source: 2013 National Business Ethics Survey, Ethics Resource Center

I leave you with this…

In short, a culture where misconduct is tolerated—or, worse, encouraged—could result in higher turnover, lower productivity and, ultimately, a diminished reputation and profitability.

On the other hand, companies that work to build and maintain ethical workplace cultures are more financially successful and have more motivated, productive employees, studies have shown.

Society for Human Resource Management

This isn’t about profitability though, it’s about equal opportunity. It’s about fairness, and it’s about doing the right thing. We all know what the right thing is, and we need to establish cultures which transparently always favor doing the right thing.

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