At Miletti Law, the authoritative force in Employment and Labor Law, we endeavor to keep you, our unusually motivated® readers, educated and in the know about issues that affect you. Because we are a firm of our word, we have prepared for you a special edition of what we call “12 Unique Canons of Corporate Conduct Made Easy for Employees.” This video is just part 1 and a must-know for all employees!
Many organizations, companies, and businesses are founded on some sort of code that dictates and requires employees to conduct themselves in a given manner. Undoubtedly, employees at all levels are familiar with the employee handbook, which requires them to behave in a specific manner. In most cases, an employee handbook acts as a rebuttable presumption through which companies may avoid some liability with their employees. This is because a handbook is perceived as a presumption serving to protect the employer.
However, the working environment has undergone some dramatic changes. Due to the adverse economic effects of COVID-19, many businesses are shutting down and companies are closing doors. Still, we are witnessing many mergers and acquisitions. While sometimes, the mergers are a result of the weaker companies being unable to withstand the adverse economic impact, which results in the acquired company being consumed by the larger businesses, there are other contexts in which companies merge to ensure a more efficient utilization of space, reduce production/operational costs, and maintain a standard level of profitability.
As these mergers and acquisitions occur, employees find themselves operating and working on another layer, which we call the corporate level. While they find themselves having to deal with shareholders and stakeholders, some are handling stuff for top executives. At this level, employers usually design a sort of framework for all their employees and typically publish it to exemplify the corporate culture and conduct they desire from their employees.
In this series of videos, we want to give employees a heads-up and ensure that they understand how to stay within the limits of the requirements of the corporate culture and conduct, which we have called the 12 Canons.
Before we start, we would like to set things straight. Employees should not worry about these changes because the new corporate culture is nothing intimidating. As an employee, you are a professional and all you need to do is pay attention to a few more things that you might have overlooked in a less sophisticated environment. This should not cause much hassle. We know that you’ll be able to do it because we will equip you with the 12 Unique Canons of Corporate Conduct made easy for employees.
Having said that, let’s dive into Canon number 1.
We have adopted a standard “IRAC” (Issue, Rule, Analysis, & Conclusion) Format for systematic handling of each Canon.
An employee pulls out confidential and sensitive information, which the employee is entrusted to handle, from an internal and secure network and sends it to their personal email address at home, not for any nefarious motive, but simply in order to review it at a later time. This person might be a supervisor and, due to the busy schedule at the workplace, the employee may have pending work that they decide to complete at home. Thus, this person pulls the information off the secure corporate server and sends it to their personal email or carries it on a flash drive to home.
This person’s action touches on two rules. Due to the potential ‘cost’ of data or information, most corporations have set rules concerning (1) handling confidential information and (2) protecting company property. In this case, company property includes data and information.
The first rule requires information and data, such as proprietary information, trade secrets, or some production formula/design, to be kept and handled confidentially. Yes, it could be financial or operational data that should never get into the public domain. Such information has a tremendous or unique value for companies and corporations because it gives them a competitive edge over their rivals.
Once such data or information is pulled from the company’s secure server or network and sent to a personal email or system, it is no longer safe or secure. There is a high likelihood that personal computers or emails are not protected with similar levels of security like company servers or networks. To such an employee, this could be an insignificant, benign act without any nefarious intent. However, regardless of the motive, this would be treated as a violation of rules and employee misconduct. By way of backdrop, you might never know who has been waiting for such information or data to leave a company’s secure network and servers. Thus, the information is at the risk of theft or being leaked to the public domain by cybercriminals. Still, such information could be used for extortion purposes or creating a company scandal.
Based on a generalized rule of confidentiality and desire to protect company data, confidential, proprietary, or private information is typically considered to be held to the highest standards of protection and security. As such, employees, particularly those at managerial positions, are required to maintain the integrity of confidential data and make sure that it remains on the company’s secure server or network. The rule is simple; the greatest protection you, as an employee, can offer to any confidential or private data is leaving it on the company’s property (secure network or server). This is why corporations spend millions of dollars on network safety and security.
The conclusion is straightforward; if you pull out and send confidential and protected information or data from a company’s secure network or server, you have violated the corporate culture and code of conduct, even if you didn’t have any nefarious intentions and were simply fulfilling your employer’s obligations. By the end of the day, you risk losing your job, the company might suffer some serious damages or loss, or you might put a company’s reputation and business at risk.
In the end, it all culminates into a single, critical Canon; regardless of what your intention is, do not send your company’s confidential data or information to your private system or email at home.
Explore and review the video more at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmqGNaGqdyQ
#Want to learn about Canon number 2? Stay tuned for our next installment!! In the interim, if there are any questions or comments, please let us know at the Contact Us page!