Whether you like it or not, being called to the court is the ever-present risk for any organization. If or when a company faces a lawsuit, legal department or hired lawyers take the lead in. Yet, as jury behavior studies show, their chances to win the case are much higher when a company was demonstrating emotionally intelligent conduct in times preceding the trial. That’s why an organization’s emotional intelligence is important for the risk management and can help persuade jurors to commute a penalty or even dismiss charges. Which elements contribute to building an emotionally intelligent company?
The vast majority of jurors are employees, not employers. This might be the reason why in cases “a worker against a company” they tend to be less tolerant to organizations than to individuals. To minimize this factor, a company must be consistently ethical in everything it does from the very beginning and be able to fix issues as soon as possible. If a company already had a remark, and the situation recurred, it can be regarded as a “tendency” which leads to troubles in court. So stay aware, take notice and remedy unethical situations fast and firmly should they happen.
This element is closely connected with the previous one. And its main idea is as simple as that: prevention is better than the cure. We mean it’s always better to take measures to avert bad situation than deal with its consequences. If we take sexual harassment or any kind of discrimination in the workplace as an example, a company must have staff educated on these topics plus special policies and procedures established to discourage such occurrences. This will allow to show that – even if something happens – you haven’t neglected the issue before.
Speaking of policies and procedures established in an organization – if they are violated, punish the wrongdoer regardless of the position he or she holds. Hardly anything can set a jury against a company stronger than some bigwig who escaped the penalty or was punished too lightly regarding the fault. Remember what we’ve said above: most jurors are employees themselves, so they want to see executives get just what they deserve or even a bit more because their social responsibility is higher.
This component correlates with the previous quite closely as no one likes when big fellows take advantage of a little man or woman. That’s why the company’s legal counselors and especially expensive lawyers should never attack a victim. In addition, an organization shouldn’t slander the plaintiff who reported an incident.
Honest, Open Dialogue
This one is an element where the emotional intelligence plays the biggest role as it deals with creating a respectful culture at a workplace, providing various channels and methods of reporting about misconducts, and training executives in people management and soft skills. The less stress is in the air between managers and employees, the less likely a company will face a lawsuit. When a friendly, favorable working environment is created, it drastically reduces the number of cases when legally defensible procedures and policies need to be applied.
These are the 5 elements, which executives must pay close attention to in order to establish a culture of high emotional intelligence in an organization and thus, manage the risks of facing the jury wisely.