Last night I downloaded the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse Report on The Roman Catholic Church and scrolled through its 150 pages or so with mounting horror. Not that any of it was a surprise but, somehow, seeing it all set out in a formal ‘report format’ was as shocking as it was surprisingly reassuring.
I had a similar feeling when, in 2018, I downloaded the Select Committee Report into the collapse of Carillion.
Both reports investigated organisational conduct risk events which lead to societal detriment on a scale which beggars belief.
The victims of sexual abuse will struggle to recover. The lives of the victims of the financial collapse were blighted irreparably.
Both reports highlight identical leadership, governance and decision-making failures.
Principles, Provisions & Frameworks were clearly no bulwark against raw power at the top of these organisations
Both reports refer to ‘progress’ made by various commissions and reports.
The Catholic Church held at least three internal reviews since 2000. The business community has reviewed itself to death since the global financial crash in 2008. For sure, ‘progress’ was made and there was a welcome new focus on ‘purpose’.
But failure in defending its moral purpose is at the core of the IICSA Report. And failure in its purpose to protect wider society was at the heart of the Carillion Report.
When it comes to ‘safeguarding’ society, claiming progress is an admission of failure.
Progress in protecting society is not acceptable. We either protect society or we don’t.
Claiming progress is a cop out. It’s a fig leaf for protecting the raw power that keeps those who fail to lead in their positions of power.
The truth is that the sexual abuse in the Catholic Church was avoidable and those involved know it.
Equally the collapse of Carillion was avoidable and those involved know that too.
Three things would have prevented these human catastrophes:
– Enforced laws
– Enforced governance
– Good leadership
These three elements were missing in both cases and, sadly and indeed horrifically, nothing will change until they are ubiquitous.