What does tone-at-the-top mean at an organization? Is it win at any (literally any) cost? If that really is the message, how long, then, before it permeates all the way through the organization?
Those questions and certainly others have been on the forefront of The Man From FCPA for several days after the revelation of the 2016 internal memo at Facebook, written by Facebook Vice President Andrew Bosworth (AKA, “The Boz”), in which he stated, “Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools. And we still connect people. The ugly truth is we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is *de facto* good.”
Reports on the memo and its continued fallout can only be termed ominous. Bosworth initially said on Twitter, “I didn’t agree with it even when I wrote it.” He later said that he “disavowed” the memo, as did Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Almost unbelievably, two un-named Facebook employees said the company had to do more “to screen for potential whistleblowers during the hiring process.” Apparently, these persons are unaware such actions to prevent whistleblowing is a violation of federal securities law (i.e., pre-taliation). Facebook is also trying to determine who leaked the memo to Buzzfeed in the first place.
All of this indicates that the tone at Facebook may be very destructive. If senior executives have a connect-at-all-costs mentality, one can only wonder if that entire attitude permeates throughout the organization. From a compliance perspective, attempts to locate the leaker of the memo, rather than respond to the substance of it, could may well portend a witch-hunting atmosphere. Finally, using the hiring process to screen out (or scare away) potential employees from exercising employment rights enshrined in both Dodd-Frank and Sarbanes-Oxley is never a positive sign.