Bad HR Practices Feed Corruption

Failure to use and enforce HR policies often provides the encouragement for corruption to flourish in an organization. I have seen it repeatedly. A corporation will have, for example, well established hiring processes, but its managers will either refuse to follow the processes, or will make a hiring decision, but then pretend to follow the process. Either way, an employee gets hired, and the other employees learn that the management is willing to ignore policies for the purpose of favoritism. Morale declines, and employees become bitter and lose any sense of loyalty to the company. This is particularly true where the employees have applied for a job only to find their time was wasted because the decision had been made prior to any job announcement.

No organization is immune from this form of corruption. Most organizations give very little attention to this breeding ground for corruption. Some organizations, perhaps unfairly, have developed widespread reputations for abuse in this area.

The consequences of failing to follow honest hiring and promotion standards are particularly damaging where the organization holds itself out as having high ethical standards. Even small injustices in personnel practices can have widespread and long lasting effects on the reputation of an organization.

Such behavior in organizations tells the existing staff that the rules are a sham. This encourages corruption.

International development organizations in particular are expected to hold and enforce high ethical standards. This is true whether they are quasi government institutions or contractors.

When proper hiring practices are ignored or used dishonestly, the impact ripples throughout the workforce and surrounding community. This affects the ability of any organization to be taken seriously by its customers. For international development organizations this can cause irreparable harm to a reputation and its ability to provide otherwise valuable assistance.

The good news is that an organization can recover its integrity and the integrity of its staff. This starts with a policy implementation audit and a dose of management courage.

Brian Pinkowski


3 Replies to “Bad HR Practices Feed Corruption”

  1. I coulnd’t agree more, Brian. Having worked with and consulted more than 300 local and provincial government and private agencies, I have personally witnessed the good, the bad and the very, very ugly. As an Expert Witness in HR (FLSA, EEOC, OSHA) we were doing alot of work in South Florida – which represents 30% of all fair labor standards lawsuits in Federal Court. Internationally, the stakes are much higher. If we teach poor principals and practices, not only is the opportunity to improve government efficiency and effectiveness missed, but more importantly the opporutnity to significantly reduce corruption can be lost for generations.

    Internationally, we need to be vigilant in assuring success in our efforts by looking close to home – in our own international consulting agencies – to weed out individuals who thrive on corruption and skullduggery. The proper focus should be to hire experts that bring a wealth of experience (and technical ToT, curriculum development) and maturity to the field of play.

    Thanks for the excellent post.

  2. Brian,
    How do you suggest good HR policy in a continent like Africa.
    It is the norm to hire your family members or tribe members.
    I even had dealing with a famous American Company in Southern Sudan where father and son workded together. Not only that they had also three of four members of the same family. Another guy’s sister was in charge of HR in Nairobi.
    Interesting post.

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