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Travel & Expense

The NFL, Compliance, Ethics and You

on November 13, 2014

Football season is in full swing, and you’ve been living under a rock if you haven’t heard about the widely publicized scandal involving the Baltimore Ravens and one of their star players, Ray Rice. To re-cap, in March 2014 a video of Rice punching his then-fiance (now wife) Janay. The blow knocked her unconscious, and he was arrested and indicted for third-degree assault. The scandal blew over, until six months later when TMZ released a video of the assault, depicting Ray punching Janay in the face. Horrified by the video, many criticized the Ravens and the NFL for not punishing Rice when the news first broke.

This blog by Matt Kelly squarely addresses the key misstep by the National Football League (NFL) and the Baltimore Ravens in their handling of the Ray Rice spousal abuse scandal.  To paraphrase Kelly, “theory was not in line with reality.”  In theory, the NFL has a strong code of personal conduct.  In reality, the league and the Ravens organization weren’t interested in enforcing it until market pressures (public outcry, sponsor revolts, political pressure) eventually trumped perceived financial forces (this guy is a really good player and we’ll win more games and make more money if we let it slide).

This divide is apparent today in the way that some American universities address missteps by star athletes and quickly recruit stars released by other universities for their missteps.  American businesses face the same divide when they consider star sales resources, star marketing leaders, and rainmaking partners.  Where is the line drawn between achieving the objective and the path to achieve the objective? Kelly gets it right when he highlights the difference between core values and core priorities, but having the right policies is meaningless unless an organization is willing to act upon it.

We’ve written before about the need for both preventive and detective controls when it comes to monitoring your company’s transactions for adherence to corporate policy. Still, the overwhelming majority of people do the right thing. Most of the rest will do the right thing if they know they are being observed.  Our technology reflects this, as we typically only find around 6% of total transactions in a company to be non-compliant and potentially fraudulent. For those who remain, the NFL, Baltimore Ravens, and every business need to decide if their core priorities are in line with their core values.  Even when it means that the equivalent of their star running back or quarterback needs to be terminated

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