Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Climate Of Fear

I've just been watching the breaking news about the report into the Savile scandal, the bits involving the BBC, that is, compiled by Dame Janet Smith. There's a horrible fascination about all this, and I don't think it's of a prurient nature. The material on the abuse of the victims is depressing and revolting, very far from fascinating. But what all this has to tell us about how easily organisations go wrong is where the fascination, and perhaps the lessons, lie.

We're told, I'm sure correctly, that a climate of fear prevailed at the BBC (and still does, it would seem) that means grown-up, intelligent men and women of much ability found themselves unable to do the right thing and take action against the abuse, by exposing it. On one level that's extraordinary, but everyone who's worked in an organisation will be aware of how it could come about, and just how easily.

It seems to me there's a moral imperative involved here, and a difficult one to live up to: the cultivation of fearlessness.

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