Compliance is not an option
“Apparently, I’m not in compliance,” I informed husband-head while working on my home computer.
“Yeah, well what’s new?” husband-head asked. “You’ve never been in compliance with anything in your life.”
True, but that wasn’t the issue.
I was talking about a program at work that requires we keep up on the latest company policies and procedures through a mandatory test given every few months. If we don’t take the test, we are “not in compliance.” After which a computer-generated company e-mail is sent out repeatedly to yell at us until we do.
The exam deals with a variety of issues, which include topics such as the company’s sexual harassment policies, potential conflicts of interest and code of ethics. And if employees answer ANY of the questions wrong, the test must be taken over again.
Here is a sample list of the questions regarding sexual harassment:
1. Herman, a longtime employee at the company, likes to slap his female co-workers on the rear end and call them “girls” or “broads.” Could his conduct be considered sexual harassment?
a. Yes. Because everyone knows Herman has cooties and no one knows where his hands have been.
b. No. For some employees, it’s the only sexual contact they currently have and it’s very much welcomed.
2. Jeff and Ingrid are co-workers and have been seeing each other for about a year ” mostly on company time in the company elevator. Jeff eventually breaks up with Ingrid, but she later asks him to take one last elevator ride “for old time’s sake” which he refuses, because frankly, he’s always been scared of elevators, and the thought that they would be caught. Is Ingrid’s behavior towards her co-worker considered sexual harassment?
a. Definitely. Everyone knows you “shouldn’t eat your meat in the butcher shop.”
b. No. She’s not interested in sex ” she wants to introduce Jeff to her new boyfriend ” the bellhop.
3. An office that tolerates men who lean, stare and wink at other women ” and men ” who walk by could be liable for sexual harassment.
a. True. Company policy dictates that you pick a gender, any gender, and stick to it.
b. False. The person could just be suffering from a bad hangover or a nervous twitch in his eye.
Questions are also asked about appropriate responses when confronted with potential conflicts of interest:
1. Dick works in the advertising department of his company. He and his wife, Jane, go out for an expensive dinner at an advertiser’s restaurant. The owner offers to pay for the dinner and sends over an expensive bottle of wine, along with a note soliciting Dick’s wife for one night in exchange for $1 million, just like Robert Redford’s character in the movie “Indecent Proposal.” What should Dick do?
a. Gladly accept, ordering another bottle of Dom Perignon and singing the lyrics from the old Wisconsin polka tune, “I Don’t Want Her, You Can Have Her, She’s Too Fat for Me, Hey!”
b. Politely decline and inform the owner that it is against company policy for him to accept anything but his meager paycheck.
A code of ethics is always an important part of a company’s image and these questions were also on the test to determine the employees’ characters:
1. Marie just received instructions to shred a bunch of documents that might be detrimental in a new lawsuit the company is facing. What should she do?
a. Gently drop the hint to her superiors that her favorite all-time movie is “All the President’s Men.”
b. Put the documents in her bra and demand 10 weeks of vacation and a 15 percent pay increase or a sexual harassment suit if they try to retrieve the papers.
Needless to say, I failed miserably on the compliance test.
“Shoot, I guess I have to take it over,” I lamented to husband-head.
But when I was done with the test, I wrote down the right answers and and sold them to my co-workers for $5 …
Heidi Rice is a Rifle correspondent for the Post Independent. Her column runs every Friday. Visit her Web site at http://www.heidirice.com.
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