Racism extends beyond cricketby
Given the current furore about racism in cricket, accountants should also take defensive action. But many practices may not have up to date policies on racism and associated issues.
Many readers will have been deeply shocked by the storm that is currently engulfing English cricket.
They might have been shocked, but few should have been surprised that a group of young men would behave badly.
Whether you call it the locker room or the dressing room, this is a location where speech can be too free. Once you add in the post-game drinking sessions then it is easy to see how matters get out of hand with racist, sexist and other offensive languages becoming common and maybe even the norm.
One of the ironies of this story is the way in which it proves that much has changed in the last decade.
I would be willing to wager that 10 or 20 years ago much of the “humorous” behaviour that has got cricketers into trouble would barely have been worthy of comment.
Similarly, after numerous recent revelations, there has to be a possibility that even the young and drunk might realise the dangers of sharing unacceptable views on social media. Then again…
You would hope that none of this could be of interest or relevance to accountants? Sadly that may not be the case since we employ young people who get drunk and use social media.
Fine, budding accountants tend to be more cautious than the average cricketer but I would be surprised if their collective social media accounts contained no words or thoughts that could cause offence.
While some accountants will still have an aversion to using the more popular forms of social media such as Twitter or Facebook (I am fearful of both), we all use emails, texts and the like without thinking.
Having identified a potential problem, the question is what action we should take, if any.
Being busy accountants, most of us might like to think that this is a problem that can be parked and then forgotten.
Unfortunately, that is exactly what Yorkshire County Cricket Club and then the English Cricket Board tried to do, and look what happened to them.
I accept that they are high profile, while accountants wallow in the glory of being dull and therefore ignored.
While it is unlikely that the media will launch an unpremeditated attack, things could get out of hand if someone wanted to behave maliciously, possibly an angry ex-employee or a current one who expected a bigger pay rise. Just imagine what clients might think if the local press published a story about institutional racism in your practice.
Therefore, it might be a wise idea to take some steps in order to guarantee at least a degree of protection.
First, try reviewing your employment policies to see whether they specifically outlaw every kind of offensive behaviour. If not, perhaps it is time to make some changes.
Next, review any complaints that might have been made about offensive behaviour and check whether they were investigated fully and fairly rather than neglected. The problem here could be if you discovered that one of your fellow partners indulged in an activity that should lead to suspension or dismissal.
Many will think that this is a cricketing storm in a teacup, but these things have a habit of expanding more widely through society and therefore it is wise to take precipitate action now in order to head off a future disaster.