[I consult and consider many sources in search of appropriate subject matter for this blog. Today’s piece’s concept comes from Walter Einenkel’s blog.]
Life Altering Events in the Work Place
Walter Einenkel quotes former Wells Fargo banker, Bill Bado, who said, “They ruined my life.” Einenkel continues:
Bado not only refused orders to open phony bank and credit accounts. The New Jersey man called an ethics hotline and sent an email to human resources in September 2013, flagging unethical sales activities he was being instructed to do.
Now, how do we–Americans, that is–feel about whistle blowers? This is how the largest bank in the world deals with this annoyance.
One former Wells Fargo human resources official … said the bank had a method in place to retaliate against tipsters. He said that Wells Fargo would find ways to fire employees “in retaliation for shining light” on sales issues. It could be as simple as monitoring the employee to find a fault, like showing up a few minutes late on several occasions.
“If this person was supposed to be at the branch at 8:30 a.m. and they showed up at 8:32 a.m, they would fire them,” the former human resources official told CNNMoney, on the condition he remain anonymous out of fear for his career.
And so, over the past five years Wells Fargo fired more than 5,000 employees, not necessarily as whistle blowers but as sub-par performers, where par was somehow having every Wells Fargo client have eight separate accounts with the bank. The lowest level employees scrambled, even cheated with a wink and a nod from managers, to bloat the corporate spreadsheets which, in turn, larded the fat cats with multi-million dollar bonuses.
Gee, too big to fail? Nope, let’s keep growing, even if our growth spurts are as fictitious as Jack’s bean stalk seeds.
Two Other Cases to Consider
Is former National Security Agency contractor a whistle blower or a traitor?
Is former U.S. Army Private Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, a whistle blower or a traitor?
Whether you decide whistle blower for both or traitor for both or any combination of the two, perhaps you will acknowledge that Snowden and Manning wrestled with the same ethical dilemma before they decided to act against established protocol. Who is more evil, if evil at all, the whistle blower or the perpetrator of egregious acts?
Connection to PTSD
A combat soldier knows that every step taken while on a mission carries the possibility of the soldier having to make a moral decision … in an instant. If that soldier fires a shot–and the shot is proved unnecessary–the military institution might justify it as “training.” Training therefore becomes a blanket authorization for soldiers in combat to fire their weapons while ethical questions are supposed to disappear. As I type these words, they ring hollow; so I will be more specific.
In Vietnam we often patrolled what were called “free fire zones,” which meant that anyone encountered who was not wearing GI jungle fatigues was categorically suspected to be the enemy … and therefore could be shot just for being there. In every instance I can remember, inhabitants of free fire zones were warned days in advance, usually by air-dropped leaflets, that we were coming.
The question I always asked myself was, where were these subsistence farmers supposed to go? And so I encountered numerous indigenous Vietnamese people in free fire zones. (They may or may not have been Vietcong.) If there was no weapon visible, not a shot was fired. But sometimes these areas were bombed before we grunts had to make our way through elephant grass, jungle, and rice paddies and we found hooches and the families in them destroyed.
They were warned.
Where were they supposed to go?
A soldier confronting an unarmed person, enemy or not, does not/should not follow the blanket order to shoot. Employees must also make difficult moral and ethical decisions when it comes to dubious tasks they are expected or directed to perform. None of this is easy. What I know is that neither military ineptitude at the flag level or corporate corruption in the board room will end until generals and company leaders are fired, lose their pensions, and when appropriate go to prison. Until then, the little guys and gals will continue to bear the brunt of bad situations they did not create.
Let’s start with John Stumpf, Wells Fargo CEO.