A board member of a multinational company operating in emerging markets needed to address a situation. They discovered an individual who had access to the company float was taking money out of the company but replacing it before the new accounting cycle. With strong corporate governance rules immediate dismissal seemed to be the natural decision. However, this was out of character and not the norm from one of their best and longest standing employees.
Understanding the local customs revealed something else and was the key to resolution.
Traditionally, the village elders were responsible for members of the community, helping where and when needed. Time and technology may have moved on, but customs and traditions tend to remain. The company had built a great deal of trust in the region and within the community. What no-one realised was the level of trust in effect made this individual a modern day ‘elder’ and hence, when asked for help, it was his duty to do so. Their success brought unintended consequences and potentially nasty repercussions for the person.
The company needed to navigate its commitment to building local economies whilst ensuring adherence to strict governance practices.
- Investigated if anyone else was being asked to provide assistance to members of the community
- Identified key reasons employees were being asked for support
- Created a formal pot with guidelines on how it was to be used
- Alerted the product development team to see if more sustainable solutions could be found
- Addressed how local talent was being identified and integrated into the company
- Created ways to promote cultural understanding bridging the gap and sensitivity between local traditions and corporate culture
inSight - Salty not Sweet
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