Trump: Which One is He?

Yesterday I wrote about the paper-thin speech that Donald Trump delivered on Monday to commemorate the Jewish observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day. Trump tries to present himself as Churchillian, but as someone who studies Winston Churchill I have to paraphrase the late U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and say, “Mr. Trump, you are no Winston Churchill.”

There are many ugly things that the well-crafted veneer of Trump’s speech tried to cover. I’m reminded of a claim by his first wife, Ivana, who said that Donald used to keep a copy of My New Order by Adolph Hitler on his bedside table. There is, of course, the continued employment of Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka in his inner circle—not to mention noted racist Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

But most damning is his silence on Chechnya. It is true that Nikki Haley, American ambassador to the United Nations, issued a statement saying in part, “We are against all forms of discrimination, including against people based on sexual orientation.”  Like Trump’s speech, these are nicely crafted words, but without action they signify nothing. For those who are unaware, there are reports out of Chechnya that gay men are being arbitrarily detained and killed after requesting permission to hold gay pride parades. The Russian government denies these reports and Chechen leaders insist if anyone was gay their own families would have already killed them.

These horrifying reports and denials are all too reminiscent of the heroes who tried to get word out about the Holocaust and the implementation of Hitler’s “Final Solution.” Not only were reports denied, but there were those who knew them to be true and turned their back anyway, most notably President Franklin D. Roosevelt. However, Trump doesn’t even rise to that standard—at least Roosevelt, who was also raised with a silver spoon, put country before self.

It’s clear that Trump’s promise of “never again” is just a slogan meant to placate his daughter and son-in-law and Jewish donors. He’s totally missed the point of why we reopen such terribly painful wounds each year to remember the Holocaust and its martyrs—to try to prevent such tragedies from reoccurring. This is why we must continue to resist. As Lutheran pastor and theologian Martin Niemöller reminded us in 1946:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—

Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Photo credit: The Churchill Project/Hillsdale College

Trump Honors Holocaust Survivors with Words, Not Actions

There were memorials around the world on Monday for the Jewish observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known in Hebrew as Yom HaShoah. In Israel, two minutes of silence are observed at 10 a.m. when an air raid siren sounds and everyone stops whatever they’re doing. It’s quite a sight to see cars stop in the middle of the freeway as their drivers get out to stand in silent tribute to the six million who were murdered. As the son of two people who fought in the Dutch underground during World War II, I find this silent observance moving.

Not silent on Jewish issues for once was Donald Trump, who delivered a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. The speech had many fine attributes, but we would be right to be skeptical. Too much of what comes out of his mouth is untruthful, insincere and self-serving. To promise to protect our Jewish citizens after months of dismissal and the continued employ of known anti-Semites Steven Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, seems disingenuous. Nor does he support the cause of preventing anyone else from suffering the fate of the Jews, Romani, homosexuals and other victims of the Nazis. His reaction to the most recent judicial rulings on sanctuary cities and his lack of action against the horrific purging of gay men in Chechnya makes his rhetoric of “never again” ring hollow.

Perhaps Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect put it best in his “report card” on Trump’s speech:

Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect’s

on the President’s Holocaust Remembrance speech today

Overall: C-

Commentary below by Steven Goldstein, Executive Director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect.

1.     Recognition of the Holocaust as a Jewish genocide. Grade A.
The president gave the clearest speech of his presidency in discussing the impact of the Holocaust on the Jewish people, a sharp contrast with his administration’s repeated refusal to include Jews on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

2.     Recognition of the rise of #Antisemitism in America. Grade C.
The president acknowledged the rise more than he has in any past speech. But he refrained from pointing out that Antisemitism on his watch has increased dramatically – by 86 percent in 2017, according to the ADL. He also did nothing to address the presence in his Administration of Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, both with Antisemitic pasts.

3.     A plan to stop Antisemitism and other hate. Grade D.
The president mentioned his resolve to stop the Antisemitism, but he offered no plan. Organizations including the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect have presented the president various plans to address Antisemitism and other hate. The president missed a golden opportunity today. #NeverAgain is not just a slogan about the past, but a call to action for the future.

4.     A vow to learn from history by not repeating President Franklin Roosevelt's tragic mistake in denying refugees entrance into the United States. Grade F.
The president said nothing. Who will be the next Anne Frank to die among the refugees his plan would deny entrance into the United States?

Photo credit: Newsweek/Reuters

Let the Buyer Beware: Law Firm Needs to Check Sexism Accusations

There is a trend in industry toward retaining legal counsel that is committed to inclusion and diversity. I recently wrote about how Facebook now requires its outside legal representatives to include women and minorities in 33 percent of their legal teams. Facebook isn’t alone in this—HP and MetLife have created similar rules. Perhaps legal powerhouse Norton Rose Fullbright should take this into consideration before acquiring the law firm of Chadbourne & Parke. Kerrie L. Campbell, the single remaining female partner at Chadbourne & Parke has just been voted out of the firm, which she says in retaliation for her lawsuit alleging that female partners are paid less and given fewer opportunities.

It certainly seems curious that of the five female partners from among 70, two have left the firm and the two remaining female partners have joined Campbell’s law suit. In my opinion, this is a red flag for Norton Rose Fullbright who should have done their due diligence before the merger.

In order to advance the cause of equality, workplace equity activists could take a lesson from the advertisers who left The O’Reilly Factor. By reaching out to clients like Facebook and HP and asking them to make their position on gender discrimination and pay inequity known to both firms, they may be able to hold the law firms accountable for fair practice. 

Photo credit: BIGSTOCK

The Customer isn’t Always Right

Airlines have been coming under scrutiny lately, with the latest incident happening on board an American Airline flight. In this instance, an airline attendant attempted to take a passenger’s stroller to check it into the cargo hold. According to the rules listed on American Airlines’ website, each ticketed customer is allowed one small, collapsible stroller, which must be checked at the gate. Strollers are too big for the overhead and could become a dangerous obstacle if not secured.

However, on this particular flight from San Francisco to Dallas, fellow passengers report that the passenger was reluctant to part with the stroller and when a male flight attendant jerked it out of her hands, he narrowly missed hitting the baby. The woman began to cry and a male passenger stood up and threatened the attendant. Eventually, the airline escorted the woman and her children off the plane and later upgraded her to first class. The attendant was removed from duty. The belligerent would-be hero remained on board.

I’ve spent the majority of my career in retail management and I always made it a motto with my employees to “treat employees the way you’d like them to treat customers.” That doesn’t mean that customers are always easy—some can be rude, abusive and manipulative—and airlines get more than their share. But when I reached out to two American Airline employees to try to understand their workplace culture, I was told that they’re ingrained with the motto, “the customer is always right” and to “inform” rather than “enforce” rules.

The enforcer in any situation is supposed to be the pilot, who is the final word aboard the plane, much the way ship captains were back in the day. However, on the video the captain just stands there and watches and doesn’t seem to intervene.

I feel that this is completely unfair to the flight attendants. Their job isn’t just passenger comfort—it’s passenger safety. They’re charged with making sure that everyone aboard arrives at their destination alive and safe. This is a case where it should be imperative at times for the customer NOT to be right, when the security of all on board must come before comfort and convenience.

Given that, the fact that American Airlines is punishing this employee for trying to do his job is unwarranted. Since I wasn’t there I can’t comment on his interaction with the passenger, but the fact that he was trying to keep everyone safe meant he was doing his job. If you can’t support your employees in that circumstance it means that you don’t stand by your values.  

Photo credit: NBC News

Bill O’Reilly Dismissal No Reason to Claim Victory

Hold the applause, please. The dismissal this week of the host of The O’Reilly Factor from Fox News is no reason to cheer. Before activists claim victory, consider this—21st Century Fox owner Rupert Murdoch has known for years that Bill O’Reilly was a serial predator, as was former CEO Roger Ailes. After Ailes was forced to leave, promises to fix the culture at Fox was followed by a renewal of O’Reilly’s contract. So when articles such as this one in the New York Times express surprise that O’Reilly was shown the door so fast after the revelation that he had paid nearly $13 million to settle sexual harassment claims, all I can say is—give me a break! There were years of allegations and the “punishment” includes a $25 million severance.

The firing of O’Reilly has done little to nothing to reassure women that reporting harassment will be treated properly. Powerful men continue to cover up each other’s misbehavior. As former Fox News co-host Alisyn Camerota told the New York Times: “It was Roger Ailes’ fiefdom. He was the king. There was no higher authority that you could ever go to and there was harassment. And I tried, in my own way, to raise the flag and to talk to people about it. I went to my superiors to talk to them about it and there was certainly a feeling of ‘this is Roger, what are you going to do? Who are you going to go to?’ ”

Fox has shown repeatedly that it couldn’t care less about women in the workplace, or about the company’s toxic culture. All they care about is money—which is clearly the motivating factor behind the dismissal after some 50 advertisers withheld their commercials from The O’Reilly Factor. As I have indicated many times, Fox should not be in the business of reporting the news, especially where they are supposed to be exposing wrongdoing. They are entirely hypocritical, and therefore have no credibility.

Illustration credit: Steve Sack/The Minneapolis Star Tribune



Some Companies Forget the Employees are also Customers

It has always amazed me how tone deaf some leaders of organizations are about the obvious. While this article in the Wall Street Journal deals with job seekers as customers, the more important question is do they consider employees as customers? According to Gallop polling, only 30 percent of employees are engaged—so it is safe to assume that the 70 percent don't speak well of their employer.

In my many years in retail I made it a point as a senior executive to treat every employee the way I wanted them to treat customers. Doing so engages employees as ambassadors for the company and your brand and helps create a psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplace. You need to look no further than the recent fiascoes with United Airlines to know how forgetting to treat employees like customers impacts your brand and reputation. On the other hand, a positive work culture creates an outreach and representation by employees that is more valuable than any other form of promotion.

Photo credit: BIGSTOCK

Why Suicides in the Workplace are Increasing

A report last week in Canada about a suicide at an IBM office was a sobering reminder of the recent rise in people who take their own lives at work. While little is known about the tragedy in Markham, Ontario, even one workplace suicide is too many.

We don’t do nearly enough to prevent adult bullying in the workplace—which I believe is even more common than school bullying,  given that as many as 120,000 deaths per year are attributable to workplace stress. I’ve written extensively on this subject in my posts and in my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire. This is an issue that needs to be brought into the light of day so that treatment and prevention can be discussed, but far too often the stigma surrounding such a death makes such conversation impossible.

Whatever has encouraged the suicide numbers to rise in the workplace, it’s an issue that requires all of us to step out of our role as bystander or witness and become activists for our colleagues. When I was a senior executive, I personally intervened several times when a person was in dire need of help. Ignoring the signs because of your personal discomfort won’t make the problem go away. Think of it like a potential heart attack—if a friend was having chest pains, you would get them to an emergency room because to fail to do so could have deadly consequences. It’s the same with someone who may be thinking about taking their own life. Two excellent resources to reach out to for help are:

·       National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800.273.8255

·       The Trevor Project Lifeline: 866.488.7386

It’s important to understand how bullying plays into rates of depression and suicide. When people are going through trauma, especially when it’s in a setting where distress is viewed as weakness, they are cut off from the support they need to cope. This is why the Faas Foundation is working with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to ascertain how people feel at work and how the tools of emotional intelligence can prevent such tragedies. Unfortunately, when I discuss this with members of the business community they are often skeptical. They don’t yet realize how feelings drive organizational behavior—but I believe this will be the key to a psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplace for everyone.

Photo credit: BIGSTOCK

Before You Start Praising Jeff Bezos, Consider This

In the rush to laud the business acumen of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos following his recently released annual letter to shareholders, many business publications are missing a key fact—this is a company that was cited in 2015 by the New York Times for its toxic work culture. The only result seems to be the shameful efforts by Bezos and spokesman Jay Carney to try to find the employees who spoke off the record to the Times, little else seems to have been done to address the culture described in the article. Bezos assertion that “Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero,” does little to reassure business skeptics such as myself.

We are seeing in real time on prime time the outcome of companies that ignore the importance of psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces. Surely the recent fiascos with United Airlines and Uber should give leaders reason to peel back the curtain and ascertain what is really going on in the culture. All of the jargon about being a “Day 1 company” or to “disagree and commit” when team members are unsure about moving forward does little to address the most important underlying principle of business—feelings drive organizational behavior.  Companies ignore this at their own risk.

I have written about Amazon’s workplace culture before, but there’s nothing cuts to the quick quite like satire, and I highly recommend this piece by New Yorker humor columnist Andy Borowitz, “Amazon Chief Says Employees Lacking Empathy Will Be Instantly Purged.”

Photo credit: Amazon

Honoring the Place Where I Learned the Golden Rule

There are few things in life quite as joyful as being given the honor to address your hometown. I had this pleasure recently when the Rotary Club of Dresden, Ontario invited me home to share my formative experiences in this “Mayberry” of the North. Dresden was, and still is, an inclusive place of good values with an interesting pedigree—it was the final stop on the Underground Railroad and the home of Josiah Henson, the inspiration for Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

I’ve had so many requests for copies of my speech I thought I’d share it with my readers.

There is no greater honour than to be recognized from whence one came. Last year when you recognized Steven McCabe, you were truly in the presence of greatness; and now, recognizing me suggests you may have considerably lowered your standards.

A few years ago at a talk I gave at a University, a cocky student stood up and challenged, "Well it's pretty easy for you to say considering you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth."

My immediate reaction was to verbally smack him, but then I thought — he's right, and responded by acknowledging it with a qualifier, indicating that I grew up with many silver spoons; but, they were not material in nature, but rather a community of people who instilled in me values and beliefs, and the characteristics and attributes necessary to become successful in life as a citizen, a family member, a worker, a leader, and a role model.

Much of what was instilled and learned happened here in Dresden. For me, Dresden was a magical place to live, learn, work, worship and play. Here I developed a wonderful sense of community and belonging.

When my family emigrated from The Netherlands over a half century ago, we were inclusively embraced by the community and integrated into its social fabric. Although we were immigrants, we were not outsiders. We became equal citizens.

My older brother Jack recently told me a story: in our first year here, when he was six, he bought his first pair of skates a couple of sizes too large for him, with tattered laces, from Hugh Chandlers antique barn for 25 cents. Then he came to this arena and tried to skate.

On ice, his ankles buckled, and in an instant, two teenagers picked him up by the armpits took him off the ice. They filled the skates with paper and bought him new laces, which cost more than the skates. And then, they proceeded to teach him how to skate!

Dresden is where I learned that, like individuals, no community is perfect; and that the real test of character is perfecting making right what was wrong. In Canada, when we arrived, there was still a racial divide. In 1956, Dresden native Hugh Burnett became an unsung national hero by forcing the government to, for the first time in Canada, declare racial equality to be a civil right.

I remember well how Dresden responded, and evolved over time, perfecting making right what was wrong.

My dad, Casper, who my brothers and I are so proud of, played a part in this by welcoming black clientele when he opened his barbershop after working for a few years at Ford's barbershop where blacks were not welcome. Dresden, at the time, had five barbershops; so there was a fair bit of competition. Because of this decision, the barbershop thrived – not just because he had black clientele, but more importantly, the white clientele switched to show their support of this stance. In the sixties, because of the Beatles, it was pretty slim pickings for barbers. Most of the young men (including me and my four brothers) in town let their hair grow down to the shoulders. Dad's shop survived when the others failed.

Dresden is where I learned how to learn. Now I should point out that I failed grades three, five and nine. It turned out that I had attention deficit disorder. Back then there were less charitable terms for this. Dresden has had the benefit of what I regard as a superior school system, which has produced people who have excelled in most sectors of Canada's economic and social society like Steven McCabe.

For me, three teachers stand out. My kindergarten teacher Dorothy Rigsby, who was also our neighbor, taught me the ethic of reciprocity — the Golden Rule — do unto others, as you would have them do unto you. This is something that I have tried to abide by throughout my life.

As almost everybody's kindergarten teacher for a few generations, Dorothy became our collective conscience to become a better community.

Francis Livingston, whose daughter Debbie became a highly acclaimed Ontario judge, became my conduit to the world. When the current LKDSC first opened, Francis was the Librarian, who took an interest in this "unusual little man" (her words), who came in every morning to read The Globe and Mail. My comment back to her term for me was, “I would have thought less of you if you called me ‘usual’.”

We developed a wonderful relationship, where over coffee every morning, we debated what was going on in the world. Almost every day she would refer me to a book or magazine article that opened up my horizons. She also taught me that memorizing in an exact way is a barrier to understanding what is written. In our daily debates, her teaching me to analyze what I read in a critical way, and listen to and hear counterpoints, became a lifelong passion. Through this, I became an unconventional thinker — a bit of a contrarian.

George Blandford, my geography teacher, who was also a neighbor, employed me as a baby sitter for his children David & Nancy. Well, as many of you may recall, he had the subtlety of a drill sergeant. He took me aside one day and asked what the heck was wrong with me and that if I did not bring up my grades I would become a loser.

After this tirade, he then volunteered to become my tutor and learning became relevant, alive and fun. The way he did this was to put learning into context. For example, in teaching geography to me and others, he got us to better understand that the social, political, economic, religious, and language dynamics define nations more than physical terrains do.

Dresden is where I learned the work ethic. Starting in my early teens, I had part-time and summer jobs, which allowed me to apply what I learned in school to the "real world." Starting with Hugh Farnsworth's Meat Market grinding mystery meat, to the Red and White Grocery, whose parent company National Grocers, I would go on to lead for over a decade,

to George K. Coyle Clothing, where at the ripe old age of 17 I became their chief buyer, and finally at Canadian Canners, where I learned the intricacies of manufacturing. In all of these roles, I had the privilege of being mentored by people who took an interest in me and made my jobs learning experiences.

Dresden is where I learned how to be a citizen. My Dad and my brothers, Joe and Stuart, became town councilors — not because of their egos, but because they felt a draw to their civic duty. Joe went on to become Dresden's last mayor and 30 or so years later, he still represents Dresden as a councilor of the regional municipality.

Growing up, my brothers and I participated in the Cubs and Boy Scouts, and learned through experiences to be PREPARED, which means to be in a state of readiness in mind and body to do our DUTY. My parents belonged to the Legion; mom, who will turn 98 this month, is a proud member of the IODE. These organizations and others, such as Rotary and Kiwanis, and the various churches fostered a spirit of giving back.

Dresden is where I learned civility. Having spent the bulk of my life in Toronto, where there is less of a sense of community, I often hearken back to my years here. Disputes and conflicts were amicably resolved, neighbours looked out for each other, people were greeted and acknowledged, accomplishments of others were celebrated, people did not mourn the loss of a loved one alone, and those in need were supported.

For me, Dresden was like living in Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show, with the full cast of characters, where everyone knows everyone, people know more about you than you do, and people's intentions where almost always honourable.

So, these teachings were my silver spoons, and have served me exceptionally well in my career. I won't go into my career other than to say that what one does for a living does not define who a person is. Often at social gatherings when introduced to someone, they ask, "What do you do?"

In many cases, I tell them I am a dog walker — usually getting a reaction like, "Oh, isn't that interesting?" before they quickly walk away because they are not interested. Now it is true I walk my two magnificent Weimaraners, Casey Girl and Junior, every day for two to three hours, and I feel that this defines who I am better than what I do for a living.

Thirteen years ago I was given a death sentence when I was diagnosed with leukemia. Thankfully I became eligible for a wonder drug called Gleevec, which turned what was a fatal condition into a chronic one. This miracle drug is a forerunner to other drug therapies that target cancer cells directly without harming healthy cells.

I have difficulty responding to being a cancer survivor because I did not go through the horrible suffering that most cancer patients go through, from the cancer itself, and the chemotherapy and radiation that has to this point provided the only hope. I did not have one day of down time, and none of the side effects associated with how cancer is usually treated.

Emotionally, however, I did go through what most do — fearing the unknown and anticipating what I have witnessed that others went through. Another dynamic was facing the reality that, as there is a beginning, there is also an end, which caused me to reflect on my reason for being.  

While I have by many standards lived a charmed and successful life, there was a realization, that if I were to meet a premature end, my mark on the world would be insignificant. The day I came to that horrible realization, I cut a deal with the Almighty, that if I were made better, I would become a better person. I was made better and am still working on becoming that better person.

To become that better person, shortly after my diagnosis, I left the corporate world to establish the Faas Foundation to focus on health, education and basic research. Over the last 12 years the Foundation has supported:

·       MSF Doctors without Borders — becoming one of the leading donors in Canada.

·       Wellspring — where we established the Faas Foundation Money Matters program that provides individual, professional care management on the financial impacts from cancer, including providing all available income replacement and drug reimbursement programs.

·       Israel Cancer Research Fund — where we are recognized as being their leading donor and where I act as an ambassador. ICRF is one of the largest sources of private funds for basic research in Israel — filling a void because basic research is not adequately funded by governments and Big Pharma. Without basic research there is no discovery and without discovery advancements in finding better treatments is limited. Let me illustrate: the drug I am on was discovered by an Israeli doctor. It targets cancer cells directly without harming healthy ones, combining this type of therapy with individualized diagnostics and treatments, researchers are very optimistic that chemotherapy and radiation as we now know it will be a thing of the past within a matter of a few years.

·       Casey House — where we established their day program and became the first major donor to their new state of the art facility. Casey House is a specialty HIV/AIDS hospital. Casey House was formally a palliative care institution because AIDS was a fatal condition, but now, as a result of research, is a chronic one. The need has shifted, now becoming a specialty hospital.

·       Chatham Kent Health Alliance — giving us the opportunity to give back to our community.

·       St. Clair College of Applied Arts and Technology—my alma mater—to build the Sport Plexus in Chatham and Windsor.

We are also honoured to be a supporter of the Dresden Medical Clinic, which has been instrumental in attracting doctors to town. We also supported a similar clinic in Thornbury, where we had a farm.

I receive a lot accolades and recognition for my work with these organizations, which is largely misplaced. My role is the easy part — simply writing a check. What my parents taught me, reinforced by what I learned in Dresden, and articulated by President Bill Clinton on giving: "If you can, you must."

The real credit for the work must go to those who volunteer and work in these institutions.

Through my giving, I have gotten to know many of them, and am in awe of the contributions they make, and in some cases in harm’s way. A few years ago, I was asked to become an ambassador for Doctors without Borders, which I agreed to do, providing I better understood the work they do and the impact they have. This led to a 20-day trip to The Republic of the Congo, where I visited a number of their missions.

While I observed many situations, one totally registered. At one of the missions, a pediatric hospital, Heidi, a young doctor from Germany who volunteers her annual vacation time to MSF, took me on her rounds. Before we got to the ICU, which was a room a quarter of the size of this hall with open windows and mothers swatting flies away from their infants, she warned me that I would be observing her negotiating with a young mother who wanted to take her 8-week-old son off of life support so that he could pass away and be buried amongst family. Heidi could not argue that leaving the infant on support would save him.

We then watched the IV being removed from his tiny arm and the mother making a cradle out of a magnificently coloured scarf, gently placing him in it and walking out with the bearing of a monarch to make her journey home. Watching this left me emotionally drained. I asked Heidi how she was able to deal with this. She responded by saying, "There is no question that emotionally, these individual situations are hard on everyone involved, but if the mothers see our emotions, it dilutes their hope. We get by with the knowledge that because we are here doing this, the infant mortality rate goes from over 30 percent, to less than 7 percent.”

Today, in the work I do, I am guided by Mahatma Gandhi’s challenge: "It is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save his honour, his religion, his soul, and lay the foundation for that empire's fall or its regeneration."

Six years ago, the Faas Foundation embarked on a major initiative of helping organizations create psychologically healthy, safe, fair and productive workplaces. This started as a result of research I did for my first book on workplace bullying. What I discovered is that to address bullying, organizations must transform their cultures. Oscar Wilde aptly wrote – "It's the prisons, not the prisoners that need the reformation."

We have since partnered with Mental Health America and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence in developing practical evidence-based programs that address what we believe to be the biggest economic and social issues of our time. To give you an order of magnitude, last year a Harvard/Stanford study found that 120,000 deaths annually might be attributable to workplace stress. When you consider that these are premature deaths, it makes it a number one killer. We are now analyzing the results of a survey completed by 20,000 people covering all sectors across the United States. What we will be able to answer is:

·       Do people make the organization, or does the organization make the person. Better understanding the importance of workplace culture.

·       The relationship between motivation and burnout.

·       What causes the unnecessary stress.

·       What influences engagement and fulfillment.

·       What should keep organizational leaders awake at night.

What we do know is that many people work in environments where there is a lack of trust in leadership. Almost every day in real time on prime time we see or hear about wrongdoings in every segment of society, the media, entertainment, business, religion, sport, government, politics and civic associations. None have been immune. Consider the Catholic Church; Volkswagen; Wells Fargo; the Boy Scouts; Flint, Michigan; doping in sport, Amazon, Brazil's meat packing industry, Fox News … the list goes on. The most common characteristic they have in common is that, internal to the organizations, the wrongdoings were open secrets.

We are calling our initiative the Emotion Revolution in the Workplace, which captures the power of emotions in influencing and making positive changes. I blog and talk about adult bullying. We are seeing in real time the impact this is having.

I encourage people to look at what is going on in the context of the past. Look particularly to the early 30s, with the swift rise of Nazism in Germany, and to the 50s with McCarthyism, where in both cases, the abnormal became normal. I also encourage people, when they are bystanders to this, to become witnesses, resisters, defenders, protectors and activists.

All of us have unconscious biases. We are now witnessing the unleashing of this dynamic, and are in danger of what Stanley Milligram observed in The Perils of Authority, “...ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible disruptive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of mortality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority."

I assert that emotional Intelligence is a key resource when it is coupled with what Dorothy Rigsby taught us in kindergarten, the ethic of reciprocity—also known as the Golden Rule—"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Martin Niemoller soberly translated this when he wrote: "First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out."

Someone once wrote: "A popular speaker is not one who is articulate and smooth, but one who is finished." I'm finished.

Why Auditors Need to be Audited

It is deeply disturbing when those we rely upon to be watchdogs for the rest of us succumb to lying and corruption. It’s even worse when we need them to police our finances—something that too often seems arcane and impenetrable by the average person and requires the expertise only a trained professional can provide.

Wednesday,  the New York Times reported that accounting giant KPMG had fired six employees, including its head of audit practice in the U.S., for getting tipped off about audit inspections. This inappropriate warning gave the accountants time to polish the portion that they learned would be inspected until it was free of errors. According to an editorial in the New York Times, KPMG had failed at earlier inspections. Its 2014 deficiency rate was 54 percent and its 2015 rate was 38 percent. Perhaps the firm had reason to be afraid.  

The organization seems to have handled things properly. KPMG had been tipped off by a whistleblower and had engaged an outside law firm to investigate, then took firm and appropriate action—a series of events that I commend. However, good practices when dealing with a whistleblower doesn’t get KPMG off the hook.

The company has long been under scrutiny for giving the scandal-ridden Wells Fargo and the deeply troubled world governing body for soccer, FIFA, clean bills of health. Whenever I see a company’s employees act out in egregious ways, such as I described yesterday about United, or in my previous coverage of Wells Fargo, I have to wonder what is going on at the top and how bad things are for employees. I can’t state too strongly that people who are employed in psychologically healthy, safe and fair workplaces aren’t given to appalling behavior.

When the head of audits for the entire country is part of this conspiracy, I also have to wonder if he went rogue or if he was just passing on the unethical behaviors of his superiors—or of the industry in general. There have been warnings. Last year U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a powerful letter to KPMG bluntly calling into question the quality of their audits of Wells Fargo. If our auditors aren’t minding the store, what are they up to?

In this disinformation era, we need solid accounting—both figurative and literal—to keep us on track. Numbers are in too many cases that only metric we have to measure performance in business. Auditors are supposed to be on the lookout for errors, not facilitating mendacity. It’s true at any time, but particularly now during the Trump administration that auditors need to be audited. Given the role they play in our capitalist system, not doing so could have dire consequences.

Photo credit: Reuters/Mike Blake