Where Was HR? The Penn State Edition

by Frank Roche on November 7, 2011

in Culture

Question: What the hell kind of culture makes winning more important than doing a smack down on a child molester?

Ask Joe Paterno at Penn State.

I know that won’t win me any friends in Pennsylvania, but I tell you, I am disgusted. Here’s what’s got me raging:

The defensive coordinator for Penn State’s 1982 and 1986 national championship teams, Sandusky, 67, who retired after the 1999 season, was arrested Saturday and charged with multiple counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault and unlawful conduct with a minor, as well as single counts of aggravated indecent assault and attempted indecent assault.

Disgusting. Even more disgusting, that the boss, Joe Paterno, the head of the football program, thought he did his job by telling someone else instead of doing something about it. I can tell you this…anyone tells me that someone who works for me was performing sex acts on a ten-year-old at the office or raped a pre-teen boy in the shower and I don’t just go tell someone. After I punch the perpetrator in the throat, I dial 911.

Joe Paterno said earlier Sunday that he behaved responsibly when he told university officials that his former defensive coordinator, Sandusky, had been seen showering with a young boy in 2002. He said he didn’t know Sandusky allegedly had abused the child.

“While I did what I was supposed to with the one charge brought to my attention, like anyone else involved, I can’t help but be deeply saddened these matters are alleged to have occurred,” he said.

Yeah, he’s saddened. What kind of culture makes a person saddened instead of sickened?

From an article in the Nov. 7, 2011 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

In 2000, according to the grand jury, a janitor at the complex went to his boss, shaken one night after seeing Sandusky performing a sex act on a boy he estimated to be between 11 and 13.

The shift supervisor testified that the janitor, Jim Calhoun, was so distraught he feared Calhoun “was going to have a heart attack.” Calhoun and his fellow workers were all new employees and feared they might lose their jobs if they reported the alleged incident to authorities. So they did not.

Calhoun and his fellow workers were all new employees and feared they might lose their jobs if they reported the alleged incident to authorities. So they did not.

What kind of culture makes it a choice to either a) report that a young boy was being molested by a coach, or b) keep your job?

It’s HR’s job to get this right. Not a little right. Not an it’s-in-the-policy-manual right. Right. Goddam right. Morally right.

I’m sure there will be all kinds of sensitivity seminars at Penn State now. There will be people who deliver that training with all sincerity.

You know what will make a difference? Never letting winning be more important than morality. How about standing up for that? How about standing up for what’s right? How about dropping the hammer on those who covered this up for years? How about making it clear to every single employee of the Penn State Univeristy system that it doesn’t have to be in the policy manual to do the right thing?

If I were helping them craft a policy it would read like this: You don’t get to let sexual assault go unreported. Ever. That means children. Adults. Students. No one. Not once. You’ll lose your job if you cover it up or let it go. And if you do report it, you’ll be thanked. More importantly, you’ll know you’ve done the right thing. That’s what we’ll stand for from now on.

If you’re in HR there’s no more important job than setting the tone of the company. Your job is about the people. Real people. And if you ever forget that for a single second and think that profit matters more…well, go away. Far away. I’m not kidding about punching child molesters and those who cover it up in the throat.

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