CEO’s Duty of Care – a case study
It is 9.30am on a Friday morning. The organisation that you lead is running smoothly with healthy quarterly profits, great brand image and perception, a happy workforce (indeed number 9 in the top 100 to work for), some superb innovative new products and some positive publicity doing the rounds in the media.
The phone rings. It is your Chief Risk Officer. ‘Jim* we have a problem….’
Tragically the phone call relays the facts. A senior, successful employee had been suffering a gambling addiction in silence for a number of years. They have a wife and young family to accompany over £180,000 of debt. They are currently in hospital after taking over 40 pills the evening before, washed down with vodka. Upon recovery they will be taken into custody, probably be given bail and almost certainly eventually be sent to prison. The pathological gambler had been using his company credit card and transferring money into their own account to fund the addiction.
‘How did this happen?’ enquires the now agitated CEO, surely this would have been picked up!
‘We never thought gambling was a problem Jim, it wasn’t something we look for.’
Eight months later Jim is no longer in position, neither is the Chief Risk Officer or the Head of Audit. The employee is serving four years in prison – bankrupt and unemployable. The family have had to sell their house and living off benefits. A wife with no husband and young children with no father. The share price dipped dramatically coinciding with extensive press coverage, the same coverage that has done immeasurable damage to the brand and invited a substantial regulator fine. The organisation is no longer in the top 100 to work for … it isn’t even on the list.
EPIC works in so many different sectors and the words we hear the most are ‘I wish someone had told us about the risk of problem gambling in the workplace …. I had no idea it is such an issue’ – well someone just has.
Gambling for most is a leisure activity with little ill effect. Gambling addiction however is the fastest growing addiction and has the highest relapse, relationship breakdown, bankruptcy and suicide rate of any recognised mental health condition. It is also the fastest growing reason that people are being convicted in the UK. The workplace environment is where most of the triggers to gambling addiction exist – stress, pressure, out of comfort zone, gambling culture, peer pressure, access to money/products.
It is now the CEO’s responsibility to ensure that this risk is effectively managed.
This was a true story….
* the real name of the CEO was not used to protect their identity.