Browse By Category

General Risk Management Ethics



Good day and welcome to another edition of RISK ALERT

This is a continuation of the last edition and this time we are treating the 2nd case, though it has some similarities with the last case and they are from the same industry, aviation. But the facts are different:



Germanwings Flight 9525 was a scheduled international passenger flight from Barcelona–El Prat Airport in Spain to Düsseldorf Airport in Germany. The flight was operated by Germanwings, a low-cost carrier owned by the German airline Lufthansa. On 24 March 2015, the aircraft, an Airbus A320-211, crashed 100 kilometres north-west of Nice in the French Alps. All 144 passengers and six crew members were killed. It was Germanwings' first fatal crash in the 18-year history of the company.

The crash was caused deliberately by the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, who had previously been treated for suicidal tendencies and declared "unfit to work" by a doctor. Lubitz kept this information from his employer and instead reported for duty. Shortly after reaching cruise altitude and while the captain was out of the cockpit, he locked the cockpit door and initiated a controlled descent that continued until the aircraft impacted a mountainside.


Germanwings Pilot Who Flew Plane Into Mountain Struggled In U.S. Flight School

According to FBI interviews with his flight instructors, the German pilot who deliberately flew his airliner into a mountainside had struggled with learning to fly and had failed a key test of his skills during training in the U.S. However, Andreas Lubitz was promoted anyway. One of the greatest blunders in managing people is inability to profile people risk on continuous basis, that is, periodically. People do CHANGE, thus necessitating a continuous monitoring of their actions /activities both on the job and to some extent, outside the job.

If the same attention that is generally deployed to KYC (Know Your Customers) can be utilized for KYS (Know Your Staff), most organizations would have succeeded in reducing their risks significantly. This is due to the fact that people risks contribute a significant proportion of risk causative factors in organizations. For instance, machine has the tendency of being more loyal than human. Cases abound where security guard that were hired and being paid regularly to protect their boss became the same person that connived with others to kill the boss.

A retired Military officer was recently murdered and set ablaze in GRA Benin by her security guard to make the incident look like she died from injuries sustained from the burnt apartment. Also few years ago, a top NNPC staff in Abuja was killed by her driver and later kept in the fridge. Machines would not do that except by accident.  Though these examples are personal, the employers in the above cases made the same mistake that many corporate organizations do make; inability to continuously conduct or review risk profile of their staffs.  The moment staffs are hired by the organizations and the first pre employment searches are conducted, many employers ‘go to sleep’. Whereas  KYS, just like KYC should be continuous because it has been proven that people’s circumstances do change over time. This is what happened in the above case of the pilot that crashed the plane deliberately, killing all 144 people on board.  From all indication, he was employed as a normal person but with time his circumstance had changed significantly and despite these, the HR (Human Resources Department) did not know. We gathered from the case that the Pilot, Andreas Lubitz, had previously been treated for suicidal tendencies and declared "unfit to work" by a doctor. Lubitz kept this information from his employer and instead reported for duty.

How can a pilot be manifesting suicidal tendencies and declared UNFIT to work by a doctor and the HR did not know anything? Which doctor? Is it personal or official doctor? Is it safe for a high ranking official such as pilot to be treated by non-official doctor? Does your organization allow such despite the obvious risks involved? Do they make it compulsory for some officials above certain levels to go for compulsory medical check-up at certain intervals in hospitals under their retainership?

Are you sure that the person in charge of that organization is still the same person you employed years ago? Can you vouch for his current circumstances, health and others? 

Cynthia was employed when she was single but after few years in the organization she got married. Now after 2 years of marriage she had appeared in the office with bruised face and swollen lips on 4 different occasions.

Before her colleagues ever demanded for any explanation she would be the first to volunteer information that she fell in the house (first time), on a bike on her way home (second time) in the kitchen the third time and so on. No official report was made to HR neither did the HR have any idea of what was going on, until the husband of Cynthia was arrested and paraded by the police for domestic violence.

What kind of Human Capital risks are you managing in your organization? When last did you do risk profiling of your employees, especially from certain grade based on the portfolios they are managing in the organizations? This would have saved the lives of 144 passengers of Germanwings Airline and the financial, legal and reputation risks that arose from the incident.

Some people just suddenly slump and die in the office without any ‘obvious’ reason whereas a simple health risk profiling would have shown how endangered they were at each regular or irregular intervals.  Few years ago, there were reports of a staff of a Deposit Money  Bank in Nigeria who shot himself due to inability to recover the bad loans approved by him. Suicide, mostly, does not just occur overnight, the victim must have been ‘nursing’ the idea for quite some time. The question is ’what is HR doing about continuous monitoring of risk profiles of staff, or What should the HR do about the policies that ’inadvertently’’ encourage these tendencies in organizations. Or should the HR wait until there are reports that a staff of the organization jumps into lagoon on suicide mission?

Falila was a long standing staff of the business development unit of a microfinance bank. In the office she appeared as a quiet, easy going and honest character. An incident later happened that prompted the bank to do a current risk profiling of this staff and on completion of the exercise she was found to have been living large outside her banking job. She was just a junior staff in the marketing department but outside she was regarded as a deputy Managing Director, judging by her social lifestyle outside the bank premises. By the time she was dismissed, she was found to have defrauded the bank to the tune of several years her monthly salaries and allowances. Another revelation about the pilot was that he struggled with learning to fly in the US FLIGHT SCHOOL and failed a key test of his skills during training, yet he was promoted. Are we then surprised about the result? By that singular act of commission or omission, 144 lives were later destroyed in his career.

Are you sure that the person that was packaged as a smart and brilliant individual from school did not compromise to get that result? Are you sure the perception about that employee did not result from halo effect? The effect of these is that just like the pilot, such a recruit can do great havoc to your organization, ultimately.

Is your HR exposed to enterprise risk management training at all? They do not even consider it necessary in many organizations.

Isn’t it time that the Human Capital divisions in organizations situate their functions in the context of Risk Management?

Remember, Human Capital managers are the greatest risk managers in organizations, simply because they manage the most complex of all risks, that is, PEOPLE RISK.

Kindly join us in a workshop on Managing People Risks in Organizations at a date to be announced later..

Have a great day.

Stay in touch with us