Widespread corruption is an all-too-common occurrence, with some of the most recent examples demonstrating just how pervasive fraudulent behavior can be when it trickles down from the highest levels of leadership. Whether it is FIFA or the Brazilian government, it is always somewhat shocking that corruption and fraudulence extends to so many levels of an entire organizational system. As Ian Leaf has said in the past, perhaps it should not be all that surprising.
A recent study reinforced the notion that corruption is contagious and is often directly related to the values and norms of a particular culture or environment. For a small business, this means that a culture in which honesty is clearly recognized and valued will make corruption far less likely. A person in a position of leadership who behaves dishonestly — whether it is toward employees, customers or anyone else — will actually encourage dishonesty among those they work with. In essence, their dishonest behavior will serve as the impetus for future employee fraud, which is why small businesses must focus on building a culture in which honesty is expected and valued from each and every individual in the organization.