Having worked in Asian developing countries for almost 15 years, I have come to learn that corruption and people trying to obtain undue benefits, has always been part of this working culture. I am always surprised by the ingenuity of their schemes. For example, I came to learn that bosses received payments from their subordinates in order to receive higher performance grades, which in turn led to higher salary increases.
I visited Karachi Electricity Supply Company (KESC) recently and met Asir Manzur, Director Human Resources. KESC has gone through a stunning transformation and after all the labor unrest, which at the end was all about who is in control of the company (the management or the trade union), they are now showing some remarkable business results. They now have the capacity to supply to all the electricity needs of the whole of Karachi in peak hours, with 60% of Karachi not encountering any scheduled load shedding, and to the other 40% KESC implements load shedding as a measure for people to stop stealing electricity and to start paying their bills.
Corruption was rampant within KESC. Most of us living in Karachi have been confronted with this. In order to address this issue, KESC needed to go beyond their ordinary measures. And they did, with gusto. As part of their initiative to solve the problem they set up an in-house legal court where employees who were accused of professional misconduct and corruption were charged within 24 hours, an investigation was done within 48 hours and a final verdict was given within 4 days of the charges coming to the fray. To manage this, they have appointed a panel of 14 legal experts and investigators who conduct the required due diligence headed by a senior manager (who on a weekly basis reports to the leadership team).
The results were mind blowing. Over the last 15 months, 1460 people have been fired in KESC on corruption charges. From directors to blue collar workers, at all levels, employees were being held accountable for their actions. At first, they handled 200 investigations per week, by now it has come down to 5 – 6 a week.
Can you imagine firing over a thousand people on ethical grounds? Draconian measures you might say and Asir would certainly agree with you, but according to him they were absolutely necessary! As a customer of KESC I totally comply.
Have you ever come across misconduct in your organization? What corruption have you witnessed in the workplace?
– Paul Keijzer