Renata Guimaraes


Peer pressure takes place when a group of peers or colleagues exerts considerable influence in convincing a person to change their values, attitudes, or behaviors to conform to their own group’s norms. Obviously, it can be positive or negative. Doesn’t look familiar?

Unfortunately, this situation is not limited to school or childhood. It is also part of the labor market. Organizational culture and peer pressure are closely related. From the simplest to the most complex situations. Maybe co-workers, for example, want you to go out for drinks after work, but you really don’t want to. The consequence, at least social, will be suffered in the medium term.

But I want now discuss something more alarming and conflicting. Cases are increasingly being present in the national and international press in which countless professionals end up “getting their hands dirty” simply because they feel compelled to follow the herd. Imagine a situation in which the company you work for is listed on the Stock Exchange and there is a constant and institutionalized practice of insider trading (use of privileged information in the context of the financial market).

Even if your work is not “inspected” by CVM (Securities and Exchange Commission), you may find yourself in situations where you are asked to do something that you believe is unethical. If you are facing this type of situation, I believe that the following attitudes can help you:

Always tell the truth.

Your workplace is the worst place to get caught lying or contradicting yourself. The countless records of emails provides direct opportunities for the truth to be uncovered in corporate investigations. Professionals I spoke with, who have been audited in this context, admit that the pressure to hide “imperfections” proved to be unbearably exhausting. The pressure for performance can certainly be enormous in your company, but the consequences of masking, defrauding or denying the truth can be even greater, and the price could be paid with your career.

Follow your conscience.

When a colleague or manager asks you to do something that feels wrong, strange, misleading or subversive, keep in mind: it probably is. Demands in the workplace can twist your moral compass if you’re caught at the wrong time. Listen to your conscience. As I said, a bad decision can cost your career and, in extreme cases, public embarrassment, confiscation of assets and criminal consequences. Ask yourself: “Could there be legal repercussions because of the decision I am making? “If the answer is “yes”, give it up. If in doubt, consult an attorney in the area.

Always discuss it with Legal, Compliance and Human Resources departments.

With rare exceptions, most employers you will meet in your career will be honest and seek to create a healthy and ethical work environment. Companies invest millions in building strong Legal, Compliance and Human Resources functions, and you should feel comfortable raising your concerns with leaders, for example, questionable tasks you are pressured to complete. Companies with a strong control environment typically provide an anonymous channel for concerns regarding potential fraud or misconduct. You will have no excuse for not raising your hand if a simple call can prevent an unlawful act that directly affects you.

Fábio Salomon

Headhunter and Coach

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