“Why? Because Everybody does it!”

An article published in the Medical Daily in 2014 and written by a sociologist from Carnegie Mellon University shows how herd mentality threatens ethical decision-making. She and her husband (who were both Red Sox fans) attended a baseball game at Yankee Stadium. The negative treatment she received from the crowd led her to study mob mentality and its impact on decision-making. In a paper they published, they explained that “A group of people will often engage in actions that are contrary to the private moral standards of each individual…”.

Oftenly people like those engaging in such actions excuse themselves by claiming “Everybody did it” or “Everybody does it” or “Everybody is doing it” (EDI).

There are people supported by well-based standards of right and wrong who are able to engage in unethical behaviors. They make decisions based on excuses that will exempt them from being overwhelmed by guilt. This is particularly true in business, and what do they usually say? “Everybody does it”!

What Does It Have To Do With Fraud In The Workplace?

The Fraud Triangle is composed of three elements:

  •  Incentive
  • Opportunity
  • Rationalization.

The EDI excuse represents rationalization, which is used to justify ethical misconduct.

Rationalization is one of the excuses people use to commit occupational fraud and most of these individuals are not lifelong criminals.

EDI claim in business is a “morally valid reason” for following others lead, it is implicitly all right for one to do it as well it doesn’t matter what: corruption, tax evasion, cheating on tests, kickbacks, false statements, harassment, bullying and so on.

Moral Justification

Unethical behavior takes the individual to a moral justification and people who use this rational usually know that what they are doing is not right just because EDI. Those who have EDI as an excuse are just arguing that they should not be condemned after all EDI!

Why Are We Talking About This?

EDI is an ethical shortcut and the corporate culture you create directly affects how your employees act. Choosing to do the “right thing” becomes even more challenging when economic considerations are attached. 

People wouldn’t jump off a cliff just because EDI as they know what would be the consequences. Nonetheless many people are still not aware of how risky it is for them to behave unethically only because EDI.

Think about how easy it is to do something when you know that an entire organization engages in the same behavior. 

As leaders, you can dictate your culture. Your response to harassment, discrimination, corruption, money laundering, and other forms of unethical behavior in the workplace will be mirrored by your employees. Your actions are messages.

Promote, Enhance, Embrace Ethical Corporate Culture 
One of the several topics we cover in our compliance and training programs is business ethics. Whether you are committed to reinforcing existing policies or establishing new ones, Prae Venire can assist you by getting that message to your employees. For more information about how we can serve you and your business, contact us to schedule a consultation.