Another reminder of the Al Capone theory of sexual harassment

I mentioned this more than 3 years ago and it’s something every company board should be aware of: The Al Capone theory of sexual harassment simply states, that a person that commits sexual harassment is very likely to do it again and very likely to commit other crimes as well.

In the original form this is used to suggest a way to spot people abusing their position in your organisation. But a recent story in Denmark shows that when you have 3 known, fairly mild, cases of sexual harassment worse is still to come.

The Danish case should be taught at every business school and every company board should be aware of it.

The short version of the story, so far, is that the CEO harassed women in the company for years. It finally came to a head and all the middle managers complained to the board. The board set out to get the facts specific to the complaint straight and found that the CEO had harassed the women, paid a compensation to the women … and kept the CEO.

This send a message to everyone, inside the company and out, that the behaviour of the CEO was forgivable.

It also send a message to everyone working in any company having the same board members as this company, that such behaviour would be forgiven.

And finally according to the theory above there would be more. And there were.

The CEO was asked to leave when media got wind of the story. The board is now gone as well, but I’ll still remind everyone: They thought it was forgivable.

If you want to look at a bright spot in this, at least one of the largest shareholders in the company decided that the chairman of the board was unfit to serve in their other boards.















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