Many people who commit white collar crimes are employees who are known for their hard work ethic and success. That’s part of what makes white collar crime so difficult to predict.
How do these people get wrapped up in illegal activities? Here are a few factors that can lead someone down that path:
Using ill-considered job incentives
Incentives can provide a competitive edge and reward those who excel. However, to work these incentives must be properly planned.
Unreasonable incentives that prioritize short-term achievements can tempt workers to cut corners. An incentive plan that rewards immediate successes can send the wrong message.
A good incentive plan will reward both long-term strategies and short-term success.
No emphasis on ethics
If a business is lax on enforcing their ethics policies, employees are more likely to view them as optional. This can create an office culture of no accountability. Low accountability may lead to wide acceptance of illegal behaviors.
An office that does not emphasize their ethics code makes it easier for workers to justify illegal or predatory behavior.
An industry-wide reputation
If the perception of an entire profession is that it works outside the rules, it makes individuals less likely to resist corrupt behavior. The wrong perception can make an industry seem implicit in illegal behavior even if the specific company hasn’t committed any wrongdoing.
The belief that others are engaging in illegal behavior can embolden some. Acts like insider trading may be perceived as just the way things get done. A bad reputation for an industry can create a feedback loop that causes more people to break the law in the name of performance.
The idea of a victimless crime
When someone commits a white-collar crime, it’s unclear who they are hurting. Many can justify stealing from a giant company because they don’t attach a face to that company.
In that way, employees may explain their actions as being harmless or not actively hurting someone. What they don’t consider is the far-reaching impact of white-collar crime on a company or its customers.
A slippery slope
Many people who commit these kinds of crimes don’t set out to break the law. Sometimes they may not know they are committing crimes or engaging in practices that harm their company and themselves.
If you or someone you know has mistakenly crossed the line and been charged with a crime, a skilled attorney can be a great resource.