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My intention with each of these posts is that you’re challenged to interrupt the noise and routine in your life, just for a moment, to think more deeply about what really matters in life… your relationship with yourself and with others in your professional and personal life.
Welcome to this month’s Tap Into Trust topic
Each month through 2021, I’ve made a commitment to Barbara Brooks Kimmel, CEO of Trust Across America-Trust Around The World (TAA-TAW) to research and explore a specific topic that focuses on how trust impacts almost every measure of success in our professional and personal life.
I will be using the acronym TAP INTO TRUST which is an initiative from TAA-TAW.
Each letter in the acronym TAP INTO TRUST represents a one-word topic. Here’s the video for Episode 11 on Safety. (If you’d rather read than watch, the transcript is below).
This month’s topic is on Safety
Here’s an aspirational action-based statement for you to use this month as you think about and apply this information and strategies on the topic of Safety:
I call out unethical behaviour and corrupt practices. I advocate for free speech with no fear of reprisal.
Where It All Began
In a report on the history of occupational health and safety in Australia, registered training organisation Inspire Education, highlight that a lot of the occupational health and safety legislation in Australia originates from a building site in 1956.
On that building site, the workers were hoisting buckets of hot bitumen to the roof of a five-storey building, when a bucket spilled hot bitumen over the side of one of the worker’s face and over his hands and forearms. His injuries were very severe..
The worker sued their employer and the case ended up in the High Court of Australia. The worker won and this case, known as Hamilton v Nuroof saw the High Court decide that the employer had a duty “… to take reasonable care to avoid exposing the employee to unnecessary risk of injury.” This case is still cited in Australian occupational health and safety cases today.
Has Occ Health & Safety Gone Too Far?
Now, you may hear people argue that occupational health and safety has gone too far to protect employees, at the expense of employers – however the intention has always been to value human life over profit.
When it comes to safety and trust, surely it must go both ways.
Any employee ought to be able to safely go about their daily work in conditions that don’t put them in harm’s way. This includes adequate training and development of skills and appropriate use of any equipment.
There is also a responsibility on employees to follow occupational health and safety guidelines which are in place to protect them from harm.
Our aspirational action-based statement for Safety also sees us considering safety in terms of ethical behaviour and appropriate practices.
In their book ‘Blind Spots: Why We Fail to Do What’s Right and What to Do about It,’ authors Ann E. Tenbrunsel and Max H. Bazerman outline their research that identified four ethical blind spots that can cause us to ignore ethical situations or to address ethical problems in a biased way. The blind spots are:
- We can believe we are more ethical than we actually are
- We can reclassify ethical decisions as something else
- We can be unduly influenced by reward systems
- We can fail to see others’ unethical behaviour
Wrongly Choosing To Go With The Flow
In 2019 a Royal Commission investigated misconduct in the Banking, superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
One of the many findings of breaches of client trust, misconduct, unethical and even illegal practices, was this key point … it wasn’t simply the case that one person was breaching trust or behaving unethically or inappropriately, it was a number of people, leaders and co-workers, creating a herd mentality of just going along with the actions, knowing that those actions were wrong.
We live in a world where it is easy to remain silent, to just let things slide.
The problem is, when we let too many things slide too often, we lower our ethical and moral standards and we lower our capacity to trust.
Calling out unethical, inappropriate and illegal practices takes courage and there are a number of reasons that prevent people from being courageous enough to be the whistleblower, including fear of retaliation, loss of job and income and negative impacts to lifestyle.
That being said however, by being aware of our potential ethical blind spots, taking the higher road by being guided by our values, and having the courage and trust in others for their support, we all have the responsibility to make our personal and professional lives safe for us to pursue more meaningful, flourishing and prosperous lives.
So, for this next month and beyond, focus wherever and whenever you can on keeping yourself safe and in making life safer for those around you. Safe from an occupational health and safety perspective, and safe from an ethical and trust perspective.
Next month’s topic is the last in this series and it is all about the importance of Tracking trust, and it is certainly one of my favourite topics on trust. Until then, my very best to you.