Volume 17.4 – Swindler’s List


Michael Cafferky describes in full detail the swindles by major corporations in recent years, implicating top level executives as well as managers. He then shows that the Bible encourages faithfulness and human flourishing to counter such evils, and concludes by suggesting that Christians in such corporations have a mission to proclaim the character of Christ.

General Motors and Volkswagen, two world-renowned automakers, have recently featured in the news for swindling the public, customers and government oversight officials. Because of their actions people die in crashes; and the environment dies a little more each day from unexpected, unwanted pollution. Listing these two global companies demonstrates the relevance and importance of the biblical perspective on business ethics.

To this list we might add other news stories about companies who have been cheating. And to that list, if we had the information, we might be able to add the names of other companies who are swindling customers, suppliers, employees, strategic business partners or government oversight officials.

Indeed, the swindler’s list might get quite long if we knew the whole truth about the marketplace. In the 2013 survey of the US workforce conducted by the Ethics Research Center, survey respondents reported that 60% of misconduct they had seen involved managers, from front-line supervisors up to and including topechelon leaders.1

Nearly one fourth of the observed ethical lapses involved senior managers. Workers also reported that 26% of ethical misconduct was ongoing. 12% of workers stated that the ethical misconduct took place company-wide. One in five reported that they experienced retaliation when they reported ethical misconduct. While ethical misconduct has declined slightly in recent years, the fact that managers are involved in misconduct is troubling.

General Motors Case

The Associated Press announced in 2015 that General Motors is required to pay nearly $1 US billion dollars in fines.2 Additionally, hundreds of millions of dollars are being paid as compensation in civil lawsuits, including compensation to families of car crash victims who were injured or died as a result of a faulty ignition switch. Employees at General Motors knew about the faulty switch for a decade before the company recalled 2.6 million vehicles in 2014 to replace the faulty part.

At least ten years prior to 2014 owners of Chevrolet Cobalt cars complained that there was a problem with the vehicle’s ignition switches, a problem which caused the engine to switch off without warning. When the engine shut off, the safety air bags were disabled and the driver lost control of steering. Hundreds of people died in crashes related to the faulty ignition switch; hundreds more were injured.

In some cases, the hurt went deeper. For example, CNN reported that the driver of one of the faulty GM Saturn Ion vehicles crashed the vehicle into…

The full article is available to download here