One thing The Man From FCPA knows from his professional work experience is that folks take their reserved parking spaces very seriously. Park in someone’s designated parking space, particularly if the purloined space is reserved for a superior and there will literally be hell to pay. However, in other parts of the world, this sacrosanct compact for parking space hierarchy may not be so well valued. Perhaps that is one area for ethics training that managers at Daimler should put on for their employees who are sent to work in China. On the other hand, maybe a more basic ethics training might be not to insult the entire population of a country in which you have been assigned to be the country manager.

All of the above came to the fore in a recent episode involving the president of Daimler Trucks and Buses (China), according to a piece in the New York Times went ballistic when someone parked in his designated spot. The now demoted former president, Rainer Gärtner, is alleged to have screamed “I am in China one year already. The first thing I learned here is that all you Chinese are bastards.” For good measure the former president is alleged to have “pepper-sprayed” an onlooker who tried to intercede in the dispute.

From the compliance perspective, Daimler is to applaud for its rapid response in relieving Herr Gärtner of his position and issuing an appropriate apology. However, the problem might have been prevented with more effective training for the same (former) President. Indeed, even considering Gärtner’s temper and propensity for such racially based outbursts might have been an appropriate evaluation tool in determining whether he should have received such posting.

Treating cultures where you are sent to work is an important part of any executive’s remit. Not only do you represent the company you work for and its values, but you are a guest in the country. Any senior executive who forgets both of these most basic of working overseas maxims needs some serious ethics training.