I’m in Dubai today, and this morning, on the television, the news feed featured a line of hundreds of young men waiting for their chance to see the FIFA Trophy as it winds its way through Russia before the World Cup starts later this year. That’s the second time I’ve seen FIFA in the news this week. Four days ago, I read that the FIFA Ethics Committee announced its lifetime suspension of Brazilian Football Confederation president, Marco Polo Del Nero, who is currently under indictment for his alleged part in the sweeping FIFA corruption case.
Do the kids in line to see the trophy know or care about the bribery committed for years within the FIFA organization? For the most part, I doubt it. But that’s not the point. The point is that FIFA could have done better. Their leaders didn’t need to give or accept bribes. The money that was taken could have built better stadiums, been invested in community teams, produced skills academies, or simply been given to schools.
Yesterday I met with a colleague who used to work at a company that has the dubious honor of being on the top 10 list of firms with the highest bribery-related fines. He told me that the worst part is that whenever he says that he’d worked at the company, people looked at him askance. They seemed to wonder – sometimes out loud – whether he’d been part of the corruption. What used to be a point of pride – the company, and his part in it – had become a reason for shame and discomfort.
Our jobs are so much bigger than ourselves and our companies. Many of you who have read my books or have subscribed to my blog have heard this before, but it was reinforced to me again this morning and I feel compelled to say it. What we’re doing is genuinely changing the world to make it a better place. As a global movement, compliance and ethics is changing the way companies do business. The kids on TV in the line to see the FIFA trophy deserve that, as do the honest people who work at companies where bad things have happened.
Recently, I saw an inspiring anti-bribery campaign from India. Instead of lecturing on the illegality of bribery, the compliance team put up posters showing a broken-down building and a collapsed bridge with the words, “Bribery made this bridge collapse,” and “Bribery made it so this school wasn’t finished.” Those pictures spoke 1000 more words than any training beginning with, “We’re here to talk about the FCPA…”
Your job and your work may not always feel like a calling, but I believe that it is. Your work is critical to the future of all of those kids waiting in line to see the trophy. Do your work well – today and every day. Their future depends on it.