Through this Covenant, I make a unilateral commitment to our employees about how this organization will address individual employee accountability. It is a principled path, called Just Culture.
Over the last 50 years, the American workplace has made substantial progress in righting the wrongs of past employment practices — when employment decisions were based upon race, religion, national origin, gender, age, family status, veteran status, pregnancy, and disability. One additional immutable characteristic of our humanness remains unresolved. We still expect perfection of inescapably fallible human beings. Human beings choose human mistakes no more than they choose their race, gender, or age. The belief in earthly perfection is itself a wrong. With this Covenant, we venture out to correct this last remaining injustice.
As an employer, we recognize the inherent and inescapable fallibility of each and every employee. As a result, we will have no expectation of perfection, at the individual or system level. We will instead simply strive to help our employees be as successful as they can be, given their natural talents, and their willingness to apply those talents in the workplace. We will also work hard to put our employees within well designed systems and processes. Those who adopt these strategies will paradoxically produce better outcomes than those who continue to cling to hopes of individual perfection.
We also recognize that we are all equipped with free will, and by the very nature of choice available to us, we will occasionally drift into risky choices, with little or no personal recognition of the risks we take. That drift, like human error, is simply a natural and predictable part of being human. There is much we can do, however, to help employees make mission and values supportive choices — from designing good systems around our employees, to role modeling, mentoring, and coaching. Better results come from helping employees make good choices. Errors just happen; choices we can control.
As an employer, we recognize our choices are linked to the outcomes we produce. We recognize, however, that even the best of choices can lead to the worst of outcomes, as there are some aspects of the world we cannot fully control — our fallibility, the inherent faults of the systems and equipment we design, and the acts of mother nature. As a result, we will cautiously evaluate outcomes, to ensure that we do not display a severity bias in our response to adverse events.
As an employer, as much as we can, we will look to an employee’s “body of work” when we look to evaluate our employee in the context of periodic or ad-hoc performance appraisals. Through the body of work we will make judgments about each employee’s natural talents, and their willingness to apply those talents to our work.
As an employer, we recognize that there are also procedural components of justice that we must respect, from informing our employees of expectations, to conducting an adequate investigation when things have gone wrong. Due process itself becomes a necessary part of a Just Culture.
We make these commitments to help our organization produce better outcomes, and to be more just with our employees.
I sign this covenant because it is the right thing to do.