If you have come across this phrase, then possibly as a way of suggesting: ‘if everyone else is playing with fouls, why should we be any different?’ Someone in your organisation might have questioned whether a payment to or from a business partner is above board. What’s there to do if the ‘business is dirty’-input suggests an unwillingness to change?
Your organisation’s ‘compliance system’ may have specific suggestions, such as anonymous escalation through a hotline. But sitting in that meeting, you might be thinking – it’s hardly a one-off measure that’s missing, but a reflection on wider issues such as the company’s culture; and the fear to lose business. Is it possible to review something as complex as the organisation’s culture? A starting point would be to pinpoint examples of companies ‘moving out of the dirt’, even though their competitors don’t follow suit.
Bringing these different views together in one meeting room requires the various functions to engage. Otherwise, if you put your ear against conference room 1, you might hear the sentence: “I think we can live with this, business will always be dirty one way or another”. Three doors down, a team is discussing a risk management system intended to catch incidents like the one in room 1. But if the participants of both meetings never meet, there might not be a chance to challenge this phrase.