This week’s guest on the Innovation In Compliance show is Sean Freidlin, Director of Product Marketing at SAI Global. He and Tom Fox chat about the article he recently posted on LinkedIn, Rise and Shine: The Morning Show’s Wakeup Call to Corporate America.



Overlapping Themes

Sean says that the central themes in movies often overlap with the common themes in ethics and compliance programs. In particular, he noticed that Apple’s flagship program, The Morning Show, tackles almost every issue that compliance teams build training about or write about in their code of conduct. Issues such as sexual harassment, diversity and inclusion, whistleblowing and retaliation are issues that many companies deal with. Sean comments that he applauds the risk Apple took to make the show, which shows their commitment to speak up about abuse of power when they see it.

Compliance and Ethics Issues

Tom asks Sean what is the general story arc of The Morning Show. Sean summarizes the plot, which includes a sexual harassment scandal, and comments that the show explores the butterfly effect on the culture and the people working there, as well as the corporate politics that are involved in managing a scandal. Sexual harassment is one of the top two issues that ethics and compliance professionals have focused on in the last year, according to Sean. He highlights several lessons ethics and compliance professionals can garner from the show, including:

  • Some people don’t know what isn’t allowed;
  • There should be a deeper commitment to communicating company values and policies;
  • The show highlights the role personal connections and relationships play in perpetuating a culture where people don’t do the right thing.

A Dilemma

You might find it harder to do the right thing if you like your boss or your colleague, but you know they’re doing something wrong. Your relationship with that person may cloud your judgment, Sean says. A positive and ethical leader has a positive influence on employees’ behavior; but a manager or leader who disregards the rules, policies and values of the company, will negatively affect everyone else. The bottom line, Sean points out, is that relationships are an essential part of a compliant organization or a culture where people do the right thing. 

Tom quotes a line from Sean’s article, “Successful and powerful men can manage to survive and even thrive on their charm and influence, despite the unethical and immoral choices they make.” He and Sean discuss the moral and ethical dilemma of doing the wrong thing if it will help you be more successful.

The Reality of Whistleblowing

Sean says that The Morning Show does an excellent job of exploring what happens after you blow the whistle. A common mantra today is ‘If you see something, you should say something,’ However, saying something is just the beginning, Sean says. The one who blows the whistle faces more than just retaliation: the emotional impact is even weightier. That person has to live with the stress of knowing that the misconduct they reported is ultimately going to be the catalyst for so much drama, such as people losing their jobs, and the company losing money.


Rise and Shine: The Morning Show’s Wakeup Call to Corporate America 

Sean Freidlin on LinkedIn