While I often find Jason Whitlock annoying, he is right on the money in his editorial (linked below) today about the Penn State scandal.
No matter what the exact facts are, this appears to have been mishandled… badly. How can educated, experienced professionals mishandle child abuse? I think there is a paralyzing fear in many institutions and organizations about the corporate brand and finances. Harming the corporate brand means less money from donors, sales of books, etc., thus creating great financial harm.
The peer pressure to protect the reputation of the organization can be very strong. A few believe it is more important to protect the integrity of the organization and its people.
The weighty financial interests of any organization can push many well meaning leaders into silence. I have personally seen it happen on more than one occasion. If you hear the phrase “no money, no mission,” you know that person’s ethics card has been put aside.
I have also seen problems handled bravely and with integrity. I have seen leaders who were not worried about reputation or major donors, but about doing the best thing for the people they lead. They determined that any issues with donors or bad press would eventually work themselves out. They also believed that if doing the right thing meant closing the doors of the organization or institution, then so be it.
All of this is very easy to talk about in theory, but very difficult when you are in a room full of people in the midst of what appears to be a crisis. I have personally seen leaders make people-harming decisions for the “good of the organization.” Today, we are seeing out this turns out at Penn State.
Whitlock’s article: http://goo.gl/8O4tu