Sunday, 20 February 2011

HR departments and bankers: the axis of evil

Workers are meant to be free to reveal criminal offences and failure by their firms to comply with legal obligations. The law sounds impressive, but it insists that an employee must go to his or her employer before they go public.

"It is like telling a mouse to go to the cat," David Buckle, one of London's leading employment lawyers, told me. If the employer thinks the employee may talk to the press or the authorities, he will suspend him or her and deny them access to the computer system. In Britain, the HR department of every major public or private bureaucracy knows what to do next. It tells the lawyers to seek a gagging injunction from the courts, which the judiciary will grant without demur.

Nick Cohen, writing in The Observer, on how the banks gagged any insiders who tried to point out that they were driving the economy off a cliff. If the whistle blowers had been heard and listened to, maybe we wouldn't have sleepwalked, unprepared, into the crash of '08. Lessons should have been learned, but they haven't. Now they've realised that they got away scot free, unapologetic bankers are crawling out of the woodwork, whining about the unfairness of people who dare to criticise or scrutinize them:

Frankly, the biggest issue is how do we put some of the blame game behind us? There was a period of remorse and apology for banks – that period needs to be over. 

Bob Diamond of Barclays trying to put our elected representatives in their place.

I beg to differ. Frankly, the biggest issue is how do we stop them doing it again? Rigorous oversight and protection of whistle blowers would be a good place to start. As Nick Cohen writes:

The banks are as great a threat to our national security as a foreign enemy. We collect intelligence on hostile powers. Why should we not collect it on the hostile City?
 Read the whole thing here - it's worth five minutes of anybody's time.

*Catbert is the evil director of human resources in Scott Adams' Dilbert comic strip.


Meridian said...

Your link under "dilbert" is broken (it's actually two links together)

Andrew King said...

Thanks for the heads up - link now fixed.