Workplace Ethics: What Would You Do?

Oct 10, 2016
Ethics, Behavioral Finance, Career, Teaching Strategies, Current Events, Credit Reports

While on my way to the airport to catch a flight to Richmond, Virginia for the Virginia Financial Literacy Summit (stop by our Roundtable from 9:30-10:30am if you are attending the summit!), I listened to this 18 minute Planet Money podcast [warning: coarse language (bull!@#$) in first minute]:

The podcast focuses on the cross-selling techniques of this national bank from the perspective of an entry-level employee whose responsibility was to execute the “eight is great” strategy. She shares the stress she felt to hit her daily quotas, the manager meetings that took place when she feel short and the ethical shortcuts that she saw to hit the numbers (and protect one’ s job). She claims that her calls to the company’s “ethics department” to report transgressions were not returned.

I previously posted (What is cross-selling? and Why do incentives matter in financial services?) on how to use this current event as a learning opportunity in your classroom. After listening to this podcast, I realized there’s another incredible lesson to be drawn that relates to managing one’s career:

What do you do when you are uncomfortable with practices in your workplace?

Here are some follow-up questions related to this:

  • What are the various actions that this WF employee took? What were the results?
  • Can you think of other steps that she could have taken?
    • What are the pros/cons of these other steps that she could have taken?
  • How much experience did many of these sales employees have before they joined WF?
    • Do you think this was a conscious company strategy to hire junior employees to execute the strategy? Why?
  • Why do you think the employees set up the fake accounts?  What was their motivation?
  • Why do you think she didn’t quit?
  • What do you think you would do in a situation like this? Why?



About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.