When Prostate Cancer Returns – The Insurance Company Two-Step – Part 7

November 22, 2013

Getting a straight answer from an insurance company – well that is like asking the Government to simply explain the Tax Code or the Affordable Care Act – it’s impossible!  And impossible leads to frustration.  The saga continues…

Health InsuranceFor those who have been following – I am on one had a prostate cancer survivor – on the other, it appears that prostate cancer has reared its ugly head again and my challenge is getting the treatment that I want with the blessing of my health insurance company.  Now mind you, the treatment I want is FDA approved and offered at the Mayo Clinic in Rocherster, MN.  So the question should be – why is this so hard?

APPROVAL VS APPEAL

The process should be simple!  Doctors says “You need this.”  You get it done and the health insurance company pays.  Simple right?  Not so fast.  It appears that the health insurance companies distrust the doctors so in order for the health insurance company to pay one must get preapproval.  As I asked in my last entry – “Who made Health Insurance Companies God?”

OK…I’ll play by the rules.  So, in my case, in contact with the Mayo Clinic, the request was sent for the one thing that can isolate where my prostate cancer growth is originating and thereby help me have an effective treatment – a C-11 Pet Scan.  Thanks to the folks at the Mayo Clinic who have to put up with this never ending bull shit.

Answer back – DENIED!

What next?  Well the C-11 Pet Scan – so says National Imaging which does the pre-approval screening for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of SC – was not medically necessary.  What?

They approved a bone scan and CT scan which was destined to show nothing, but the one scan that can show where the new cancer is embedded is denied.  I don’t know about you, but that’s the damn dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.  But there has to be a solution.

NEXT STEPS

Nothing being one to give up (which is likely what the insurance company would like me to do), I went on the BC/BS website to seek information on how I could appeal their decision.  Guess what…nothing there that answers that question.  Amazing?  Na…they don’t want people to appeal.  Rather, my guess is they would rather us (the patient) just take their finding as God and quit.

Not a chance!

Web based connection to BC/BS and the question is raised about appealing the decision.

Instant email in return indicating that I would get a call within 1 to 3 business days.

Sure enough I got the call.  Pleasant lady on the other end tells me that I can’t appeal since I had not submitted a claim for service.  Duh!!!  Of course I didn’t.  I didn’t get that far.  I tell the nice lady that the preapproval process is where the failure occurred and that is what I need to appeal.

“Oh,” she responds, “well you’ll have to take that up with National Imaging, we can’t help you.”

“How might I go about doing that,” I asked.

“Oh…your doctor will have to talk with them.  They don’t deal with patients.”

Let me get this – BC/BS can’t talk with me since I tried to follow the rules and National Imaging can’t talk with me because I’m not a doctor.  I am sure that those who follow understand how this is crazy making for a consumer just wanting to get appropriate treatment.

WHERE FROM HERE?

Not being a person to give up…looks like on Monday I’ll be calling the Mayo Clinic and see if they can help by giving National Imaging more of the information they need to get the test approved.

Sad, but this should not be such a stressful process.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME

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Lance Armstrong’s Collapse of Ethics (part one – NEED) – An indepth review by Chuck Gallagher ethics expert and author of the Human Side of Ethics

January 18, 2013

Illusions collapse!  The collapse under their own weight governed by the law of gravity.  If you pile too much bullsh*t on less than a solid foundation you will find yourself one day in a stinky pile of dung.  That, today, is where Lance Armstrong finds himself.  And the reality is – once you’re in it, it’s hard to dig your way out and ever get rid of the stench!

Lance ArmstrongHeralded as a true American hero, Lance Armstrong was revered as an icon – a man who beat cancer, was at the top of his athletic career and a pay-it-forward guy with his non-profit foundation Livestrong.  Today Armstrong’s past successes are dwarfed by his admission that he was a liar and bully.  But is Armstrong’s story any different that those of lesser know folks who find themselves in a Collapse of Ethics?  The patterns are the same only the names and circumstances change.

The following was reported by CNN:

Appearing tense, Armstrong told Winfrey it was a happy day for him to be there with her.

He described his years of denial as “one big lie that I repeated a lot of times.” He had races to win and a fairy tale image to keep up.

Armstrong reminisced on his storied past of being a hero who overcame cancer, winning the Tour repeatedly, having a happy marriage, children. “It’s just this mythic, perfect story, and it isn’t true,” he said.

It was impossible to live up to it, he said, and it fell apart.

What Lance stated is common – not easy – but common for those of us who build a house of cards only to watch it collapse under the weight of unethical choices that were compounded by lies and more lies.  The question is – what are the patterns that can creep into our lives that allow someone who knows better to make unethical choices?

There is a pattern – a clear pattern of behavior – that is not specific to a person, but rather specific to unethical behavior and it starts with NEED.  And, while the word – NEED – is wide open to interpretation, the emotion connected with it is rather simple.  Defined as a physiological or psychological requirement for the well-being of an organism, NEED is that elusive thing driven by an internal desire connected with an emotion that drives behavior.  To be clear…I’m no psychologist, but there is no doubt that there was an internal emotional desire that went unfulfilled that contributed to the choices that Lance Armstrong took.

Below is a partial transcript of Oprah’s interview with Lance Armstrong:

Oprah Winfrey: Did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?

Lance Armstrong: “Yes.”

OW: Was one of those banned substances EPO?

LA: “Yes.”

OW: Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance?

LA: “Yes.”

OW: Did you ever use any other banned substances such as testosterone, cortisone or Human Growth Hormone?

LA: “Yes.”

OW: In all seven of your Tour de France victories, did you ever take banned substances or blood dope?

LA: “Yes.”

OW: Was it humanly possible to win the Tour de France without doping, seven times?

LA: “Not in my opinion. That generation. I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture.”

Notice…while admitting guilt a key factor emerges…Lance believed that he could not win without acting unethically in his sport of choice.  In fact, he acknowledged that while he “didn’t invest the culture” he “didn’t try to stop the culture.”   In other words, Armstrong, like many others who act out unethically, took the approach that it was alright to take illegal or unethical actions (or both) as long as it was the norm!

But back to NEED.  For Armstrong to win he believed that he NEEDED to use performance enhancing drugs!  Winning was important and winning the old fashioned way didn’t seem to be an option.

There is an illusory truth that most of us miss when we are in the midst of making life changing choices…and that is – if the actions of others are common place we assume that similar actions that we might make are alright.  Rarely do we challenge the common actions around us and ask the hard questions about ethics.  Armstrong, in his answers to Oprah’s questions, demonstrates that.  See the transcript below:

OW: You said to me earlier you don’t think it was possible to win without doping?

LA: “Not in that generation, and I’m not here to talk about others in that generation. It’s been well-documented. I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture, and that’s my mistake, and that’s what I have to be sorry for, and that’s what something and the sport is now paying the price because of that. So I am sorry for that. I didn’t have access to anything else that nobody else did.”

OW: Usada issued a 164-page report. CEO Travis Tygart said you and US Postal team pulled off the most sophisticated, professional and successful doping programme sport has ever seen. Was it?

LA: “No. It definitely was professional, and it was definitely smart, if you can call it that, but it was very conservative, very risk-averse, very aware of what mattered. One race mattered for me. But to say that that program was bigger than the East German doping program in the ’70s and ’80s? That’s not true.”

OW: What was the culture? Can you explain the culture to us?

LA: “I don’t want to accuse anybody else. I don’t want to talk about anybody else. I made my decisions. They are my mistakes, and I am sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that. The culture was what it was.”

OW: Was everybody doing it? That’s what we’ve heard. Was everybody doing it?

LA: “I didn’t know everybody. I didn’t live and train with everybody. I didn’t race with everybody. I can’t say that. There will be people that say that. There will be people that say, ‘OK, there are 200 guys on the tour, I can tell you five guys that didn’t, and those are the five heroes’, and they’re right.”

What was Lance’s NEED?  Well he says it best in one of his comment to Oprah!

“My ruthless desire to win at all costs served me well on the bike but the level it went to, for whatever reason, is a flaw. That desire, that attitude, that arrogance.”

Lance Armstrong’s Collapse of Ethics will continue…

Meanwhile – YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Lance Armstrong – A Collapse of Ethics – the transcript of Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey – the first of a four part series by Chuck Gallagher ethics expert

January 18, 2013

Armstrong InterviewBelow is a transcript of the first part of the interview with Oprah Winfrey by Lance Armstrong.

Oprah Winfrey: Did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?

Lance Armstrong: “Yes.”

OW: Was one of those banned substances EPO?

LA: “Yes.”

OW: Did you ever blood dope or use blood transfusions to enhance your cycling performance?

LA: “Yes.”

OW: Did you ever use any other banned substances such as testosterone, cortisone or Human Growth Hormone?

LA: “Yes.”

OW: In all seven of your Tour de France victories, did you ever take banned substances or blood dope?

LA: “Yes.”

OW: Was it humanly possible to win the Tour de France without doping, seven times?

LA: “Not in my opinion. That generation. I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture.”

OW: For 13 years you didn’t just deny it, you brazenly and defiantly denied everything you just admitted just now. So why now admit it?

LA: “That is the best question. It’s the most logical question. I don’t know that I have a great answer. I will start my answer by saying that this is too late. It’s too late for probably most people, and that’s my fault. I viewed this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times, and as you said, it wasn’t as if I just said no and I moved off it.”

OW: You were defiant, you called other people liars.

LA: “I understand that. And while I lived through this process, especially the last two years, one year, six months, two, three months, I know the truth. The truth isn’t what was out there. The truth isn’t what I said, and now it’s gone – this story was so perfect for so long. And I mean that, as I try to take myself out of the situation and I look at it. You overcome the disease, you win the Tour de France seven times. You have a happy marriage, you have children. I mean, it’s just this mythic perfect story, and it wasn’t true.”

OW: Was it hard to live up to that picture that was created?

LA: “Impossible. Certainly I’m a flawed character, as I well know, and I couldn’t do that.”

OW: But didn’t you help paint that picture?

LA: “Of course, I did. And a lot of people did. All the fault and all the blame here falls on me. But behind that picture and behind that story is momentum. Whether it’s fans or whether it’s the media, it just gets going. And I lost myself in all of that. I’m sure there would be other people that couldn’t handle it, but I certainly couldn’t handle it, and I was used to controlling everything in my life. I controlled every outcome in my life.”

OW: You said to me earlier you don’t think it was possible to win without doping?

LA: “Not in that generation, and I’m not here to talk about others in that generation. It’s been well-documented. I didn’t invent the culture, but I didn’t try to stop the culture, and that’s my mistake, and that’s what I have to be sorry for, and that’s what something and the sport is now paying the price because of that. So I am sorry for that. I didn’t have access to anything else that nobody else did.”

OW: Usada issued a 164-page report. CEO Travis Tygart said you and US Postal team pulled off the most sophisticated, professional and successful doping programme sport has ever seen. Was it?

LA: “No. It definitely was professional, and it was definitely smart, if you can call it that, but it was very conservative, very risk-averse, very aware of what mattered. One race mattered for me. But to say that that program was bigger than the East German doping program in the ’70s and ’80s? That’s not true.”

OW: What was the culture? Can you explain the culture to us?

LA: “I don’t want to accuse anybody else. I don’t want to talk about anybody else. I made my decisions. They are my mistakes, and I am sitting here today to acknowledge that and to say I’m sorry for that. The culture was what it was.”

OW: Was everybody doing it? That’s what we’ve heard. Was everybody doing it?

LA: “I didn’t know everybody. I didn’t live and train with everybody. I didn’t race with everybody. I can’t say that. There will be people that say that. There will be people that say, ‘OK, there are 200 guys on the tour, I can tell you five guys that didn’t, and those are the five heroes’, and they’re right.”

OW: How were you able to do it? Walk me through it. Pill deliveries, blood in secret refrigerators… how did it work?

LA: “I viewed it as very simple. There were things that were oxygen-supplying drugs that were beneficial for cycling. My cocktail was EPO, but not a lot, transfusions and testosterone.

“I thought, surely I’m running low [on testosterone following the cancer battle] but there’s no true justification.”

OW: Were you afraid of getting caught? In 1999 there was not even a test for EPO…

LA: “No. Testing has evolved. Back then they didn’t come to your house and there was no testing out of competition and for most of my career there wasn’t that much out-of-competition testing so you’re not going to get caught because you clean up for the races.

“It’s a question of scheduling. That sounds weird. I’m no fan of the UCI but the introduction of the biological passport [in 2008] worked.

“I’m paying the price and I deserve this. That’s okay. I deserve it.

“My ruthless desire to win at all costs served me well on the bike but the level it went to, for whatever reason, is a flaw. That desire, that attitude, that arrogance.”

OW: When you placed third in 2009, you did not dope?

LA: “The last time I crossed that line was 2005.”

OW: Does that include blood transfusions? No doping or blood transfusions in 2009… 2010?

LA: “Absolutely not.”

OW: Were you the one in charge?

LA: “I was the top rider, the leader of the team.”

OW: If someone was not doing something to your satisfaction could you get them fired?

LA: “No. I guess I could have but I never did. I was the leader of the team and the leader leads by example. There was never a direct order. That never happened. We were all grown men and made our choices. There were team-mates who didn’t dope.”

OW: One former team-mate, Christian Vande Velde, told Usada you threatened to kick him off the team if he didn’t shape up and conform to the doping programme?

LA: “That’s not true. There was a level of expectation. We expected guys to be fit to be able to compete. I’m not the most believable guy in the world right now. If I do it I’m leading by example so that’s a problem.

“I view one as a verbal directive and that didn’t exist. I take that. The leader of the team, the guy that my team-mates looked up to, I accept that 100%. I care a lot about Christian but when you go on to other teams and show the same behaviour…”

OW: Were you a bully?

LA: “Yes, I was a bully. I was a bully in the sense that I tried to control the narrative and if I didn’t like what someone said I turned on them.”

OW: Is that your nature – when someone says something you don’t like, you go on attack? Have you been like that your entire life – 10-years-old, 12-years-old and 14-years-old?

LA: “My entire life. Before my diagnosis I was a competitor but not a fierce competitor. When I was diagnosed, that turned me into a fighter. That was good. I took that ruthless win-at-all-costs attitude into cycling which was bad.”

OW: How important was winning to you and would you do anything to win at all costs?

LA: “It was win at all costs. When I was diagnosed (with cancer) I would do anything to survive. I took that attitude – win at all costs – to cycling. That’s bad. I was taking drugs before that but I wasn’t a bully.”

OW: To keep on winning it meant you had to keep taking banned substances to do it? Are you saying that’s how common it was?

LA: “Yes, and I’m not sure that this is an acceptable answer, but that’s like saying we have to have air in our tyres or we have to have water in our bottles. That was, in my view, part of the job.”

OW: When you look at that do you feel embarrassed, shame, humble, tell me what you feel?

LA: “This is the second time in my life when I can’t control the outcome. The first was the disease. The scary thing is, winning seven Tour de Frances, I knew I was going to win.”

OW: Was there happiness in winning when you knew you were taking these banned substances?

LA: “There was more happiness in the process, in the build, in the preparation. The winning was almost phoned in.”

OW: Was it a big deal to you, did it feel wrong?

LA: “No. Scary.”

OW: It did not even feel wrong?

LA: “No. Even scarier.”

OW: Did you feel bad about it?

LA: “No. The scariest.”

OW: Did you feel in any way that you were cheating? You did not feel you were cheating taking banned drugs?

LA: “At the time, no. I kept hearing I’m a drug cheat, I’m a cheat, I’m a cheater. I went in and just looked up the definition of cheat and the definition of cheat is to gain an advantage on a rival or foe that they don’t have. I didn’t view it that way. I viewed it as a level playing field.”

OW: But you knew that you were held to a higher standard. You’re Lance Armstrong.

LA: “I knew that, and of course hindsight is perfect. I know it a thousand times more now. I didn’t know what I had. Look at the fallout.”

OW: What do you mean by you ‘didn’t know’? I don’t think people will understand what you’re saying. When you and I met a week ago you didn’t think it was that big? How could you not?

LA: “I see the anger in people, betrayal, it’s all there. People who believed in me and supported me and they have every right to feel betrayed and it’s my fault and I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologise to people.”

OW: You never offered it [performance-enhancing drugs] to them [team-mates], suggested they see Dr Michele Ferrari?

LA: “There are people in this story, they are good people, we’ve all made mistakes, they are not toxic and evil. I viewed Dr Michele Ferrari as a good man and I still do.”

OW: Was he the leader and mastermind behind the team’s doping programme? How would you characterise his influence on the team?

LA: “No. I’m not comfortable talking about other people. It’s all out there.”

OW: David Walsh of the Sunday Times in London said your relationship with Ferrari immediately dialled suspicion on you. Can you see that relationship was reckless?

LA: “There were plenty of other reckless things. That would be a very good way to characterise that period of my life.”

OW: What about the story [masseuse] Emma O’Reilly tells about cortisone and you having cortisone backdated – is that true?

LA: “That was true.”

OW: What do you want to say about Emma O’Reilly? You sued her?

LA: “Emma O’Reilly is one of these people I have to apologise to. We ran over her, we bullied her.”

OW: You sued her?

LA: “To be honest, Oprah, we sued so many people I don’t even [know]. I’m sure we did.”

OW: When people were saying things – Walsh, O’Reilly, Betsy Andreu [wife of former team-mate Frankie Andreu] and many others – you would then go on the attack for them, suing and know they were telling the truth. What is that?

LA: “When I hear that there are people who will never believe me I understand that. One of the steps of this process is to say sorry. I was wrong, you were right.”

OW: Have you called Betsy Andreu? Did she take your call? Was she telling the truth about the Indiana hospital, overhearing you in 1996? Was Betsy lying?

LA: “I’m not going to take that on. I’m laying down on that one. I’m going to put that one down. She asked me, and I asked her not to talk about it.”

OW: Is it well with two of you? Have you made peace?

LA: “No, because they’ve been hurt too badly, and a 40-minute [phone] conversation isn’t enough.”

OW: [With] Emma you implied the ‘whore’ word. How do you feel about that today? Were you trying to put her down? Shut her up?

LA: “I don’t feel good. I was just on the attack. The territory was being threatened. The team was being threatened. I was on the attack.”

OW: This is the clip I just cannot reconcile [winning speech after seventh Tour de France win]… What were you trying to accomplish there?

LA: “I’ve made some mistakes in my life and that was a mistake (standing on podium after winning 2005 Tour de France and saying “believe in miracles”).

OW: Were you particularly trying to rub it in the faces of those who came out against you and say they were lying – were you addressing them? What were you saying that for?

LA: “That was the first year they gave the mic to the winner of the Tour and I was wondering what I was going to say. That just came out. Looking back at it now, it looks ridiculous.”

OW: You said dozens of times in interviews you never failed a test. Do you have a different answer today?

LA: “No I didn’t fail a test. Retroactively, I failed one. The hundreds of tests I took, I passed them. There was retroactive stuff later on.”

OW: What about the Tour de Suisse [in 2001]?

LA: “That story isn’t true. There was no positive test. No paying off of the lab. The UCI did not make that go away. I’m no fan of the UCI.

OW: You made a donation to the UCI and said that donation was about helping anti-doping efforts. Obviously it was not. Why did you make that donation?

LA: “It was not in exchange for help. They called and said they didn’t have a lot of money – I did. They asked if I would make a donation so I did.”

OW: Many people feel the real tipping point was [former team-mate] Floyd Landis’s decision to come forward and confess?

LA: “My comeback didn’t sit well with Floyd.”

OW: Do you remember where you were when you heard Floyd, a former team-mate and protege, was going to talk?

LA: “I was in a hotel room (upon hearing Landis would reveal details of Armstrong’s doping). Floyd was sending text messages about his interview. I finally said ‘do what you have to do’. He went to the Wall Street Journal with the story.”

OW: Did you rebuff him, would you say you rebuffed Floyd? Did you rebuff him after he was stripped of his Tour win, did you just blow him off?

LA: “Up to that point I supported him when he tested positive. I tried to keep him on my team because he knew what others didn’t. I didn’t shun him.”

OW: So that was the tipping point. And your comeback was also a tipping point. Do you regret coming back?

LA: “I do. We wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t come back.”

OW: You would have gotten away with it?

LA: “Impossible to say, there would have been better chances but I didn’t.”

OW: Did you not always think this day was coming? Did you not think you would be found out at some point, especially as so many people knew?

LA: “I just assumed the stories would continue for a long time. We’re sitting here because there was a two-year criminal federal investigation.”

OW: When the Department of Justice dropped the case, did you think ‘now finally it’s over, done, victory’? You thought you were out of the woods; the wolves had left the door?

LA: “I thought I was out of the woods. And those were some serious wolves.”

OW: What was the reaction when you learned Usada was going to pick up the case and pursue the case against you?

LA: “My reaction was to fight back. I’d do anything to go back to that day. I wouldn’t fight. I wouldn’t sue them. I’d listen. I’d say guys, granted I was treated differently to other guys. Treated differently in that I wasn’t approached at the same time as other riders.

“They gathered all of the evidence and they came to me and said what are you going to do? Going back I’d say ‘give me three days. Let me call my family, my mother, sponsors, foundation’ and I wish I could do that but I can’t.”

OW: Will you co-operate with Usada to help clear up the sport of cycling?

LA: “I love cycling and I say that knowing that people see me as someone who disrespected the sport, the colour yellow. If we can, and I stand on no moral platform here, if there was truth and reconciliation commission – and I can’t call for that – if they have it and I’m invited I’ll be first man through the door.”

OW: When you heard that [former team-mate] George Hincapie had been called to testify by Usada, did you feel that was the last card in this deck, the last straw?

LA: “My fate was sealed [by George]. If George didn’t say it then people would say ‘I’m sticking with Lance’. George is the most credible voice in all of this. We’re still great friends. I don’t fault George. George knows this story better than anybody.”


Business Ethics at Work – IBE Ethics and Work Survey – Comments by Chuck Gallagher Business Ethics Expert

December 9, 2012

First I reported on the KPMG survey from India and now the Institute of Business Ethics published their “at work survey” which shows similar results.  Lack of workplace ethics is rising due to the pressures from our worldwide current economic situation.  There’s nothing like a good recession to bring out the worst in folks!  By the way the full report on the IBE’s survey is found HERE.

According to the British Guardian:

right-wrongThe IBE’s ethics at work survey, which was last carried out in 2008, asks employees about their attitudes to ethical issues in the workplace, their perceptions regarding ethical practices in their organizations and what formal assistance on ethical matters their organizations provide for them.

Encouragingly, the majority of British (84%) and mainland European (77%) employees say that honesty is practiced “always or frequently” in their organization.

Although the proportion of British full-time workers who say they have felt pressure to compromise their organization’s ethical standards remains similar to 2008 (9% and 11% respectively), as does the prevalence of an unethical culture (18%), British employees seem to be significantly more likely to experience certain types of pressure to behave unethically than in previous years. The most common of these include meeting unrealistic business objectives or targets (19%) and being asked to take short cuts (14%).

Wanting to help their organization survive was mentioned for the first time as a source of pressure (7%), an indication that the recession is taking its toll on ethical standards.

Of the fifth of British employees who have been aware of misconduct in their organization in the last year, only half of these (51%) say they have reported it. Similarly, of the quarter (28%) of mainland European employees who said they had been aware of misconduct, only half raised their concerns.

As the head of the Ethics Resource Group – an organization that provides ethics training, presentations and consulting to companies worldwide, the statement above that “meeting unrealistic business objectives” creates a significant pressure is true.  Logically when business is booming the NEED to meet an unrealistic objective is reduced.  However, especially during periods of weak economic performance, the NEED increases and pressure seems to mount from all sides.  The most significant part of this problem is if the “unrealistic business pressure” is supported from the top where the discipline for ethics must originate.

To deter unethical and potentially illegal behavior, three things must be present: (1) Delivering swift and consistent justice for unethical actions; (2) Identify the weak areas within your organization and target them for ethical training and attention; and (3) develop ways to foster ethical behavior among leaders and monitor management integrity.  This is the three legged stool from which a company creates a foundation for positive ethical behavior.

Lapses in Business ethics are not just caused by one person!

The report in the Guardian is quite telling:

In business ethics, there are no lone gunmen – the theory that integrity failures are caused by just one person behaving badly. UBS was fined £29.7m last month by the FSA for failures in its systems and controls that allowed former employee Kweku Adoboli to conduct Britain’s biggest bank fraud. Integrity crises are usually the result of a gradual erosion in behavior over time, which develop into an unethical culture, rather than one person acting on their own while everyone else stands by, powerless.

While we celebrate that the majority feel their workplace is one where honesty is practiced, this is undermined by the statistic that a third of those in managerial or supervisory roles in British organizations perceive “petty fiddling” as inevitable.

But why fret about a few biros and A4 pads missing from the stationery cupboard when there are bigger risks like bribery and corruption and health and safety to mitigate against?

Consider the broken windows theory: a building is vandalised with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the vandals break a few more; eventually the building is broken into and squatters move in. The theory is that petty crimes, if unaddressed, create a culture which leads to larger ones.

New York’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, put this theory to practical use in his zero-tolerance of petty crimes such as vandalism in New York. The result was turning around a city that once seemed ungovernable, particularly when it came to crime. Overall crime rates dropped by 44% to their lowest in more than a generation, and the city’s murder rate went down by 70%. Petty fiddling at work is a little like those broken windows.

New research by Dr Muel Kaptein of the Rotterdam School Of Management into why good people do bad things may give cause for concern. Kaptein cites “acceptance of small theft” as something which may indicate a culture susceptible to integrity failure. If small thefts of highlighter pens are ignored, then so are slightly larger ones, like over-claiming expenses or accepting unauthorized business gifts. It doesn’t take long for people to begin pushing those limits, and before long you have a large scale integrity failure on your hands.

A major multinational corporation unnamed states the following in their Code of Business Conduct:  “At XXXXXX assets should be used for legitimate business purposes, incidental and occasional personal use of XXXXXX assets such as computers, telephones and supplies is permitted.”  It is interesting here that Sr. Management recognizes that there is no way to completely control the petty actions by employees so they have defined those actions and made them tolerable.  Yet, there is a challenge that is found in the written policy, namely what is “incidental and occasional personal use?”

The ethics at work survey found that just under half of the UK’s full-time workforce thinks it’s acceptable to take pencils and pens (41%) and make personal phone calls (45%) from work and about a third (30%) said it was OK to post personal mail from work. A quarter think it is acceptable to use the internet in work time and a fifth of British employees feel it is acceptable to “take a sicky”. The survey also showed that there is little difference in attitudes between employees and managers.

If the tone is set by managers that these small ethical breaches are unacceptable, then perhaps the tone and culture will follow. Most people do not start out to be malicious, or to harm the organization or defraud it – they are just trying to do their job.

The challenge so aptly presented in this report is where is the line and perhaps, more importantly, should we tighten the reigns when the NEED increases or is the presentation of acceptable ethical tolerance levels best when dealing with the mundane at work?

Credit is given to: Simon Webley is research director at the Institute of Business Ethics. The Employee Views of Ethics at Work: 2012 British Survey and Employee Views of Ethics at Work: 2012 Continental Europe Survey are both available as free downloads from http://www.ibe.org.uk


KPMG India Fraud Survey – Patterns of Crime – Comments by Business Ethics and Fraud Prevention Expert Chuck Gallagher

December 9, 2012
KPMG India

White Collar Crime up?  Is that any surprise considering the vast changes in the world economy over the past four years?  With high profile cases like Bernie Madoff and a host of others, I have been asked multiple times if we reached a point where “White Collar Crime” may be on the decline.  My response is “heaven’s no!”  In fact, there are three components of an ethical lapse and the proliferation of “White Collar Crime” and NEED is at the top of the list!

When the Economy stinks NEED IS HIGH…

To my left is a graph from a KPMG India Fraud Survey – the entire report is found HERE.    In their report KPMG states that “White-collar crime in corporate India has witnessed a ‘substantial increase’ over the last two years.”

The graph shows the areas where respondents indicated that fraud had taken place.  Interestingly enough, according to the report the incidents of fraud had increased by 10% from 2010 to the same survey in 2012.

According to the KPMG Survey:

Cracking down on fraud is critical for a country that needs investment.

“India is a fast-growing economy. The problem is a level of low confidence in international investors, which stems from corruption,” Rohit Mahajan, partner and co-head, forensic services, KPMG India, said at a press briefing in New Delhi. “Besides international investors, this has also impacted entrepreneurial spirit in India.”

The infringements are of various kinds, with bribery and corruption making up 83% of cases. A large part of the frauds also relate to cyber crime (71%) and diversion of assets (65%). The sectors most affected are financial services (33%) and information and entertainment (17%), according to the survey.

Most frauds (85%) are investigated internally and very little of the money is actually recovered, the survey said. The most effective methods for detecting frauds are whistleblowers, internal audits and data analytics.

The challenge represented by this report is not limited to India.  Other data suggests that similar patterns of fraud and white collar crime exist in all developed economies especially those whose development has been spurned by rapid economic growth.  India and China for example.  The challenge becomes how to stop the proliferation of white collar crime?  Policies alone will not be the most significant deterrent. We must stem the gap between ethical policies and practical behavior.

Often misconduct either never gets reported or when reported is somehow never escalated beyond direct managers.  This silo of data prohibits effective solutions when combating white collar crime.  For purposes of this post however the primary value is to observe the patterns of white collar crime so organizations will have an intelligent methodology to target abuse and curb unethical and potentially illegal practices.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!

As the founder of the Ethics Resource Group, I work with Companies, Associations and Universities bring awareness of Ethical Choices and how to help Employee and Members stay within the ethical boundaries.  For more information contact me at chuck@chuckgallagher.com or visit chuckgallagher.com


Funeral Divas Muneerah Warner arrested and the Conference fails! Monica Vernette Gray shares insight! Questions remain!!!

November 13, 2012

Always on the forefront of the funeral industry – Connecting Directors – a leading provider of funeral news was on top of this breaking story that may, as the facts come out, turn into a fraud inquiry…?  Ryan, with Connecting Directors, interviewed via email former Funeral Divas, Inc board member – Monica Vernette Gray about the fiasco regarding the Chicago Conference.  The conversation is reproduced with permission from Connecting Directors.

Hello Ryan. Thanks for reaching out to me. I had a feeling you would.  : )

Man I don’t know where to start.  OK … Tuesday (11/6/2012) the evening before the conference, Muneerah Warner called me from the hotel and stated there was a problem with her credit card…she had no idea what was wrong with her credit card…the hotel needed another credit card…made some remark about needing shelter…

The New York Chapter president of Funeral Divas paid for Ms. Warner’s hotel room for that evening (even though Ms. Warner told her that everything would be paid for) and my credit card was supposed to be used to HOLD (not charge or pay) until Ms. Warner straightened out the issue with her credit card. Without me being present, or my credit card being present, the hotel charged my credit card $1,750.00 for the conference rooms.

STORY #1:  When I arrived at the hotel the following morning (Wednesday, 11/7/2012), Ms. Warner told me that while she was on the airplane en route to the conference, someone went to her bank in Alexandria, VA and withdrew $7,000.00 out of her account. She said the investigation into this was going to take 6 to 8 weeks … and the funds would not be available to her before then. I asked her to call someone to cover the cost of the hotel conference rooms and she said she had nobody to call. She said she only had $71 in her account.

In the meantime, I observed one of the presenters at the computer looking up addresses for local currency exchanges. She wanted to cash the $985.00 check that was presented to her by Ms. Warner. She also contacted the bank that the check was written on…and was told that the account the check was written on was no good. She told Ms. Warner she wanted cash, and Ms. Warner said she would ask ME for half of the money. !!!!!  I drove this presenter to a local currency exchange and after approximately 20 minutes of phone time, the

currency exchange refused to cash the check.

STORY #2:  As I remember this version of events relayed to me by the presenter, Ms. Warner told this presenter that a check had been deposited but had not cleared … and would not clear until Monday (11/12/2012).

Another presenter was also presented with a check by Ms. Warner…and Ms. Warner let her know that funds were not available to cover it.

The first presenter I mentioned above was livid, outraged … the whole gamut.  I told Ms. Warner my displeasure at the ways she handled things. I told her that she took advantage of me and, after the out-of=town folks returned to their respective states, I would have to deal with the embarrassment and fallout of what she came to my hometown to do.  I did not get the impression that Ms. Warner understood the magnitude and seriously of what was going on.  The first presenter and I had yet another discussion about the incredible events, and she called the Rosemont Police Department in Rosemont, IL. The officers instructed the presenters on the proper handling of this situation, and told them they would have to seek relief in civil court.

After I expressed my dilemma to the police officers, they took the matter to the hotel management. I was about to call my bank, but one of the managers demanded that I not call the bank …and they reversed the charges immediately.  They stated that Ms. Warner did not tell them to use my credit card to HOLD the conference rooms, but instructed them to go ahead and charge my credit card. There were no signed contracts with my signature on them with the hotel, and I never agreed to pay the hotel for the conference rooms. (In fact, I had ZERO contact with the hotel during the arrangement of this conference.) This left the $1,750 unpaid and since Ms. Warner did not have the means to pay it, she was arrested.  I believe the charge was “theft of services,” with the hotel being the injured party.

One of the police officers told me that I was too nice to people, too nice to Ms. Warner, and to never do that again.  Lesson learned.

The conference was disrupted and ended. The hotel provided a shuttle bus for the attendees to go to the Rosemont Police Department so they could copy driver’s licenses and collect telephone numbers of the attendees.  The detective told us that they called the bank in question, and there were NO identity theft issues associated with Ms. Warner’s account. Yeah … she lied to me about being the victim of identity theft.

Problems Problems Problems!!!!!

  1. The New York Chapter President was stranded in Chicago and not prepared to pay for any hotel rooms (as Ms. Warner told her this expense would be taken care). She spent the night with one of the presenters. GRACIOUSLY, ASD (one of the corporate sponsors for this conference) paid for a few nights at the hotel for this chapter present.
  2. I believe 17 people registered for the conference. There were national and local corporate sponsors for the conference. WHERE IS THIS MONEY???????????????????????????????????
  3. Why wasn’t the hotel paid in advance for this conference?
  4. Some of the conference registrants were able to contact their credit card companies and get the charges temporarily reversed while investigation takes place.

I do not know the specifics of Ms. Warner’s release or who paid what to get her out of jail.

I do not know what will become of Funeral Divas. I wish Funeral Divas well in future endeavors. As an organization, the premise is sound.  Intentions at one time were honorable.  I do not know what happened or went wrong. I NEVER thought I would witness and experience the events of last week.

I do not know what happened to the monies collected from conference registrations and corporate sponsorships. I believe a complete financial forensic audit of Funeral Divas is appropriate and in order.

Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to share my horrific and humiliating experience.

Monica Vernette Gray

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Christopher Olivera, former GameStop VP of corporate communications and public affairs plead guilty to embezzlement

November 5, 2012

Why do good people, well educated people, make unethical choices – in many cases choices that are illegal – knowing that “Every Choice has a Consequence” and the consequences that follow unethical illegal choices are never pleasant?

Frank Christopher Olivera, former GameStop VP of corporate communications and public affairs plead guilty Thursday to one count of mail fraud for embezzling $1,965,900 from the company.

More information is provide on my White Collar Crime Speaker blog. You can read the full post here.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME