Have you worked with Liam Neeson?

Liam Neeson offers to endorse your skill set on LinkedIn. Nice one, you may think.  Is he qualified to judge? Remind me, where did you meet…?

The strategy is not aimed at being taken seriously, obviously, rather it is a smart marketing tool for the promotion of Taken 3 – a 20th Century Fox production due for release in early January 2015. Watch Liam Neeson offering to endorse your LinkedIn skill set here.

Strictly speaking, it constitutes fraud to endorse another person’s skills if you have neither met nor worked with them (not even remotely) and aren’t really able to say anything about their skill set.  A discussion of the ethics, see also Illinois State Bar Association’s article, of this approach raises interesting questions. Degree deceit is rampant, and some industries are more prone to this type of fraud than others. New Dehli TV reported earlier this year that the Indian marked is struggling with fake resumes, the IT sector is particularly affected (see India Times).

Similar results were found by a UK university (Guardian article) – candidates who had graduated more than 10 years ago were notably more often guilty than more recent graduates of inflating grades. Students who have been found doctoring references on their CVs have been threatened with prison time by the UK Fraud Prevention Service Cifas. They found that it is not students only who embellish their resumes, this type of fraud can also be found among top Executives . Fraudulent CVs are in part at record highs due to fierce and global competition. Recruitment fraud, in terms of re-recruitment due to fraudulent references, accounted for more than GBP 610 million (nearly USD 1 billion) in 2013, the UK National Fraud Authority reports.

Interestingly, 20th Century Fox Film was recently looking for a Corporate Compliance Director, managing forensic analysis and accounting and detecting fraud, the job description is still available on LinkedIn.  Liam Neeson will be keen on avoiding reputational damage and will do his due diligence, I am quite certain.

Forensic Accounting and Fraud Examination: Case Study – Online Pharmacy

Ethics – effective and questionable approaches

Today, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) posted a note saying that a former BlackRock Asset Management Managing Director had been deemed unfit for the job (as approved person) due to his repeated failure to purchase a valid travel ticket.  These repeated rather minor acts of cheating, if you like, turned out to be conscious decisions, rather than errors and hence proved the intent.

The consequences were drastic – and probably a very effective way of demonstrating the power of applied ethics and law enforcement.  The individual in question, Jonathan Paul Burrows, was banned “from performing any function in relation to any regulated activities for not being fit and proper”, so the FCA.

Also today, the New York Times DealB%k reported that the Dutch Banking Association had introduced an oath (with variations, addressing aspects of faith) “I swear that I will endeavor to maintain and promote confidence in the financial sector”.  The oath aims to improve the sector’s image and its executives’ behavior – so far only the 90,000 at the top of banks which made headlines with scandals such as Rabobank, ABN Amro or ING Group will be asked to sign the oath, the article states.

While an oath or pledge, as introduced in at least one further bank and common in various other professions such as medical doctors and attorneys, may be seen as a step in the right direction, it clearly is nothing more than one step though.  Pledges or oaths need to be considered in context and therefore, an in-depth understanding of the cultural and sub-cultural particulars (i.e. the corporate culture for instance or the values and practices of an industry) need to be considered.  Apart from this, power dynamics in organisations play a key role in the success of behavioral change campaigns.  Continue reading “Ethics – effective and questionable approaches”