As the HR director of DMBC I have witnessed first hand the change in Mr. Duncan’s responsibilities to the company. He has become deeply afflicted by the diagnosis of Batten disease to his nine year old daughter Nicole. Wanting to begin a new CSR program aimed at combating Batten disease Mr. Duncan has gone out on his own accord to use the windfall created by the FY11 projections to help fund this endeavor of his. Though I’m empathetic and personally feel for what he and his family are going through, Mr. Duncan still has a responsibility to the employees and shareholders of DMBC.
By combining his role as CEO with his role as a father it is clear he has gotten off track and has overstepped his responsibility as the face of the company. My concerns with what is happening at DMBC has to do not just with the proposed CSR program for Mr. Duncan and it’s effects towards the company, but also with the duties of the senior leadership and the current culture amongst them. If he goes through with funding a new CSR program in order to help his daughter Nicole, Mr. Duncan will be doing more than just taking away bonuses from our well deserved employees.
He will be changing the core principles and key practices of DMBC. When I approached Jim Miniter in order to get some resolution about the situation he told me several things that created a feeling of unease. As we talked in his office he said “We’re going to have to present this change (new CSR program for Batten disease) in the annual report and at the shareholder meeting---but I guess Gino can finesse those things,” and when I asked him if he would talk to Mr. Duncan he responded with “I can’t. It would be like betraying a brother.
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This rationalization by Mr. Miniter and his loyalty to Mr. Duncan has skewed his primary duty as the CFO of DMBC. I believe as the CEO, Mr. Duncan is an agent to the individuals who own the corporation and its employees not the other way around. By letting him fund this project without debate, he has created an environment where employees are afraid to speak up about his direction. He wants to change the current CSR program of Ride for Life towards a cause that personally benefits his interests which is ethically unsound.
Senior leadership has been passive in letting Mr. Duncan force his future CSR program for fear of disloyalty and reprisal. While talking to other employees they’re also afraid. They’re afraid of possible effects on promotions and evaluations if they do not follow suit or participate in helping Mr. Duncan use the projected windfall for his daughters fight against Batten disease. I make these following recommendations in order to thwart off any negative effects Mr. Duncan’s professional choices could have against DMBC.
Create an indoctrination program for all new employees and a refresher training course for all current employees to establish the company’s code of ethics and values. By doing this, we’ll have employees who are responsible into ensuring that leaders are consistent in their commitment to proper ethical behavior. Rather than put the Ride for Life program on hold we need to expand on it by creating a program that raises the issue of Batten disease. Raising awareness for Batten disease doesn’t have to be just monetary.
The Ride for Life program has been so successful—both in raising employee morale and in creating positive public relations that Dottie Thompson had been working for nearly a year to take the program national. Though Mr. Duncan is the CEO, he should lead the Ride for Life/Fight Batten Disease CSR program so it allows him to focus on his cause and spend more time with his family. By having him focus directly on what has been side-tracking him from his professional duties for the last several months he will have a greater impact with everyone who is connected to DMBC.
It also allows him to expand awareness of DMBC CSR programs from Greensboro to Rochester, New York that will benefit the company. Lastly, employees should be allowed to dictate where their bonuses and participation goes without fear of retaliation from corporate. I can assure you by allowing them to decide where their bonuses and volunteer work go they will end up supporting Mr. Duncan and his cause even more than despising him. I understand my position as the HR Director at DMBC, but it is also my duty regardless of title to uphold my values, integrity, and my overall responsibility to the employees and shareholders.
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