Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Do bankers need biz ethics training?

According to a recent post at the WSJ (click here) 98,000 employees of Deutsche Bank, 13,000 senior bankers at Goldman Sachs and 140,000 staff members at Barclays are being taken through ethics programs, which are aimed at reinforcing codes, values, and behavior. This is in response to the scandals and reputational blows at the three banks. The debate is centrally connected to our discussion on corporate governance and accountability. And it is also about the effectiveness of ethics training in the workplace and in the financial industry.
The report states that if team members at Deutsche Bank score less than 80% in a mandatory online test on compliance, they are red-flagged to their team leader and their career could be affected. And at Goldman Sachs, senior bankers have to spend hours debating a fictional case study about a big player on the brink of collapse.
At Barclays, CEO Antony Jenkins set out the bank’s “Transform” program after the Libor scandal. Sessions for senior leaders "take place in a room at headquarters styled like a Roma agora to encourage open discussion". Staff members start watching this clip (take a look at it). Then, they engage in case studies sessions which echoes the sort of dilemmas they face daily. They are also asked to vote on the best action after watching video scenarios like the ones we examine in class. Barclays’ workshops are reportedly led by 1,500 “values leaders” trained by a faculty of outside experts. Besides training, they need to change the structure of incentives and the organizational culture. They should measure "good conduct" and they should give it weight in bonus decisions, for example.
Mr. Jenkins argues that “I’ve been clear that [this] is a five to 10-year journey, so this isn’t sprinkling a bit of PR magic and life suddenly gets better.” Humm...