Ben Heineman on a CEO’s duty to investigate wrongdoing

News Corp, Walmart and CEO Failure to Investigate Wrongdoing
Harvard Business Review’s HBR Blog Network
May 4, 2012
Commentary by: Ben Heineman, Belfer Center senior fellow
Topic: The CEO’s duty to investigate wrongdoing 

“CEOs must respond quickly, decisively and comprehensively to investigate and address wrongdoing as soon as they learn of it.

Though it may seem common sense, that last phrase — “as soon as they learn of it” — seems repeatedly to elude, and then to haunt many a CEO, including high-profile ones. The key point for business leaders — and one that I would often make to executives when I was at GE — is this: You own the problem the instant you hear about. You will be judged by every action you take, or don’t take, from that moment on.”

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