I cannot tell you how much I wish I was wrong. A large part of my job is to try and track trends – especially those issues that will shape the new world of work. Every now and again our team at TomorrowToday gets to check in and see whether we were right or not. Obviously, we want to be right – our reputation and ability to get work from clients depends on it.
But, today I wish I was wrong. You see, in April 2005 I did one of the most in-depth pieces of investigative journalism I have ever done, and put together an article entitled: Would You Work for Halliburton?. It’s worth a read – as we chronicle the nasty habits of this nasty company. In the article in 2005, I suggested that Halliburton would have trouble hiring the right kind of people to turn their company culture around, and that the future might be bleak for them.
It turns out I was horrifically accurate in this assertion.
This past week, freshman Senator Al Franklin sponsored a a bill requiring the Pentagon to no longer do business with any contractor which prevents its employees from suing if they were sexually abused. Apparently there are a number of companies that state this in their employee contracts. Worst offender is Halliburton. In 2005, Halliburton employee Jamie Leigh Jones was drugged and gang raped by seven of her colleagues. When she threatened to report them, she was locked in a container for more than a day. Her contract then precluded her from suing for sexual abuse while on the job.
I suppose you can understand this sub clause – the company does not feel it should be held responsible for the actions of individual employees. However, I’d argue, as I did back in 2005, that Halliburton has created a culture in which unethical behaviour is not only condoned, it also seems to be encouraged. Of course, this is probably unfair on the general Halliburton employee – but it would be tough for them to argue against the strong case we presented in 2005, and the reality of Jamie Leigh Jones’ rape allegation. I ask again: who would work for Halliburton?
As a bizarre aside to this story, when Al Franklin proposed the Bill, you’d have expected its easy passage into legislation. But 30 Republicans argued against it. For example, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) argued that it’s not the government’s place to decide who the government does business with. What? Others argued that the government should not get involved in private contracts between employees and employers. Unless, I would argue, the company is doing something illegal! Isn’t that the point of government – to protect people?
It seems that the Republicans are now so hellbent on opposing the Obama administration that they, too, have lost their (moral) compass. This, too, I have predicted, and I am sad to be right.