When we think of the phrase quid pro quo, “something for something,” we typically think of sexual harassment in the workplace. The presumption is in cases of sexual harassment is that a boss or supervisor will make unwanted advances towards their subordinate employees in exchange for work benefits or under threat of termination. But quid pro quo comes in multiple forms, and corporations should be vigilant of such activity within their organization, or risk a harmful malignancy in their corporate culture that will ultimately have negative consequences.
In the context of sexual harassment, quid pro quo means that an employee has been subjected to unwelcome advances as a term of their employment. This obviously constitutes a hostile work environment, and while it is morally repugnant to ignore such behavior, there are also negative consequences that impact the entire business. A hostile work environment can cause disruptions to daily operations that are costly for the business or organization. A person who is subjected to sexual harassment from a superior or other coworker is typically not as engaged as other employees. They do not dedicate the same level of focus to their work as they would in a non-hostile work environment. They tend to make more mistakes, and be more inclined to malinger in order to avoid their circumstances. This can lead to loss of productivity that may ultimately affect the corporation’s bottom line. It also poisons the cycle of corporate culture. As the affected employee disengages from their position, it can have a ripple effect throughout the workplace that will cause the corporate culture to rot.
Another form of quid pro quo that is less covered by media is bribery. Under the definition of “something for something,” bribery can occur between clients and their contractors, between contractors and businesses, or between businesses. When it occurs between businesses, this is typically the result of a mutually beneficial agreement. In another scenario businesses might also pay government officials for preferential treatment that would effect their bottom line. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Studies show that [corporate bribery] is also counterproductive resulting in lower profit margins, return on equity, and employee morale; costly delays as players haggle over the size of the kickback; and poverty and poor governance in the markets where they’re paid.” It goes on to say that according to the World Bank, “roughly one-third of firms around the world use kickbacks, paying an estimated total of $400 billion a year.”
Quid pro quo situations like sexual harassment and bribery also open the business or organization up to a parade of legal action and bad press that can ultimately devastate a company. Both corporations and nonprofits alike have seen whistle-blowers go to the government or the press if their concerns are not being heard from within the organization. Perhaps there is a sexual predator in the organization who was not terminated following a comprehensive investigation, or the investigation was not comprehensive at all. Many corporations might incorrectly assume that it is easier to push the problem under the rug rather than deal with the costs of turnover—interviewing a replacement, vetting applicants, and then devoting resources to training and onboarding. However, should the circumstances of the quid pro quo every become public, the costs of ignoring the problem will eventually be paid in full in litigation costs, bad press, and loss of business.
If you suspect there is quid pro quo going on in your business or organization, you can find answers with Lauth Investigations International. Lauth’s team of private investigators is comprised of former military and law enforcement personnel who are highly-trained in intelligence operations in corporate settings. We can perform background checks, initiate discrete undercover operations, offer top-notch surveillance, and provide expert recommendations for our clients. We carry a stellar A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and are available 24/7 for our clients.