“HoRenSo” for non-Japanese employees (3) Honest Reporting
Q: I learned about reporting, contacting and consulting during the initial training. I was taught "the conclusion should come first," "use of 5W1H (why, where, when, who, what and how)," "always consult first and not to act independently." Among the teachings, the lecturer made an emphasis on "making an honest report." But, how far should I go in reality? There is a saying that sometimes it is necessary to stretch the truth.
A: Have the courage to make an honest report.
This is a difficult question but I can only answer that you should be honest all the time.
Honest Reporting Is the Best, But with Some Exceptions
Of course there are exceptions. For example, if there is a sudden call for the director, and you have been instructed to tell that he is not in. It is justifiable not to be honest in that case as a matter of common sense.
"You report honestly" is one of the most important notions in HORENSO. In the HORENSO progressive chart, it is categorized in the highest section. To recognize the importance of reporting honestly is mentioned in the lower sections too.
Quite some time ago, there was an incident that D Bank was forced to stop the business operation in New York.
A veteran staff X did not fulfill his obligation to report to both his superiors and to the regulatory authorities in America. As a result of illegal trading that was accumulated over the years, huge losses of thousands of millions of yen were incurred. Staff X had desperately tried to cover them up but in the end had to own up to the fact.
Of course Staff X who carried out the illegal trading was guilty but Branch Manager T was also arrested and received a heavy sentence. During the trials, Branch Manager T was questioned as to why he did not make an immediate report to the authorities after Staff X owned up. Branch Manager T had been stopped from doing so by the instructions from the top and thus failed to make a report.
The lawyer in America defended by stating that in Japan, employees cannot go against the orders of their superiors, and requested for his innocence. Of course the courts in America did not allow for that.
35% of new staff follows instructions that go against their own conscience.
The problem here is whether you can persist in making an honest report or do the job in accordance with the law even if you go against the orders from your seniors and do not succumb to the pressure of having to protect the organization.
So what should you do? There is no other way, but to tell yourself, "I have the courage to make an honest report" or "I have the courage to decline instructions that go against the law."
Honest Reporting Becoming More and More Important As the Compliance Awareness Grows
The Japan Productivity Center for Socio-Economic Development conducts an opinion poll on new employees every year since 1999. One of the questions in this poll is: "You are instructed from your superior to proceed with your job with means that go against your conscience, for the sake of the company. Which one of the following would you choose?" There are 3 choices as follows:
- I don’t really want to do it but I act according to the instruction.
- I try to avoid it as much as possible.
- I am not sure.
The surveys are conducted twice, every spring and autumn and the diagram shows the figures in autumn. If you look at the figures, for the first time, there were more than 50% of the employees who chose "I try to avoid it as much as possible" in 2004. On the other hand there were still up to 35 employees in 100 who replied "I don’t really want to do it but I act according to the instruction." After 2004, they haven't conducted the same poll, but the percentage will be lower now thanks to the compliance awareness in the society.
Which would you choose?