Professor Peter Henning, Wayne State University and former federal prosecutor. The Barometer realizes that prosecutors develop a certain cynicism over the years. However, the good professor is just wrong. Even if we accept his premise that you cannot train people to be ethical, we can deny the second part — the access to money.
Unions have had a run of money from its tills — in the millions. Yes, it is access to money that allows embezzlers to do their thing. We in the field of ethics and compliance get the internal controls going so that those so inclined cannot find a way to do their stealing.
As one peruses the list of union embezzlements, there is a common thread. Local union officials teamed up, as it were, with outsiders to get their scam going. That area of third-party contracting is where most internal and external auditors are at their best. They know how to get at their access, their documentation, and the missing funds. In short, the union schemes are not creative nor difficult to detect. If you can’t train ’em, you can prevent their activity. Weak internal controls is more likely the cause of the union blues. And that, dear Professor Henning, is the access, and that we can control.
Now that we have settled the second part, back to the first part. The unethical will always be among us. However, there are degrees of unethical propensity. The born-thieves probably cannot be helped by training, but the fence-sitters can be persuaded (sometimes with fear) and the ethical can be inspired to report and/or prevent theft, and to remain dedicated to integrity. WE can’t save them all, but we can persuade a sufficient army to deter those who steal because the money is there and available.