May 31, 2006

Planes and Trains

Monday was the hottest day of the year so far here in Toronto. As you can see from the chart on the left the temperature reached a high of 33 degrees (91 degrees Fahrenheit). The humidex reached 42 (105 Fahrenheit).

But that's wasn't the hottest news of the day. Two things - Planes and Trains were the hot topics. Translated the 2 things are - An Admission of Spying by an Airline and an Illegal Transit Strike.

The big item here was that nine hundred thousand commuters were stranded without transportation as a result of an illegal transit strike. The economic impact will be valued at around $15 million dollars. When the Vice Chair of the Toronto Transit Commission was asked whether the action by the transit union would reflect badly on all unions. He replied that the actions of a few people in one union is not a reflection of all unions.

In fact something similar was said in relation to the airline admission that a few of their managers spied on its principal competitor -
"In 2003-2004, certain members of WestJet management engaged in an extensive practice of covertly accessing a password protected proprietary employee web site maintained by Air Canada to download detailed and commercially sensitive information without authorization or consent from Air Canada. This practice was undertaken with the knowledge and direction of the highest management levels of WestJet and was not halted until discovered by Air Canada."

Westjet made a public apology, paid for Air Canada's costs and agreed to donate $15 Million to charity on behalf of both companies. Interesting how the $15M number is common to both situations.

It would appear that some in a bell-weather Canadian Industry - Transportation, have not learned the lessons of Enron and Katrina. Where the worst of public and private sector leadership was exposed. So how do organizations, whether they be large or small take steps to prevent this activity? Here are 2 simple things that can be done.

  1. Define, publish and enforce a zero tolerance policy towards any form of illegal and unethical activity;
  2. Have every employee sign a Code of Conduct and Business Practices. This is a set of expectations and principals that all employees use when conducting business.

Update - Westjet CEO Talks Exit Strategy

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