Not more pie in the face.
Instead, Rupert Murdoch, founder of UK-based News Corp., needs to do the right thing in the wake of the UK phone-hacking scandal involving charges that his company broke laws, invaded privacy and bribed law enforcement officers.
Murdoch is dealing with three crises:
- CORPORATE: Legal and reputational crisis resulting from the actions of News Corp’s executives, editors and a few reporters
- INDUSTRY: Far-reaching implications that have soiled the journalism professional, which has well-established ethical standards.
- PERSONAL: His legal vulnerability if he was directly involved.
The Christian Scientist Monitor reporter Gloria Goodale sought my opinion of how News Corp. is managing the crisis; her story was published July 20.
Murdoch has apologized, participated in a hearing and sent a letter to his employees promising to usher in a “new era of ethics” at News Corp. That’s just a start and maybe too little, too late. Adhering to the law and practicing ethical behavior can only improve at News Corp.
The relevant lessons for all American companies — including those in the media sector — are:
- ETHICAL LEADERSHIP & RESPONSIBILITY: Ethical leadership is an essential part of good management. Murdoch’s company is accused of committing illegal acts; he must “fix” that by accepting responsibility. Ethics start at the top as the CEO sets the tone for all employees, and is best illustrated by action.
- DISCUSS/PRACTICE WITH EMPLOYEES: Owners, top executives and other managers should bring their organization’s code of ethics to life in a variety of ways that could include mock situations to clarify what their code means in day-to-day practice, not just in an employee handbook.
- COMMUNICATE OUTSIDE: News Corp’s team must tell what they’re doing to assure that employees will stop illegal and unethical behavior, will never repeat it, and outline the specific steps taken to assure that News Corp’s media outlets are “doing the right thing.” Talk with customers and suppliers about your company’s ethics; at Hanser & Associates, for example, we include the public relations industry code of conduct as an integral part of our letters of agreement with clients.
First, do the right thing. And then talk about it.
Posted: July 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm by Ron