Eloise Keating, 07 January 2016

7-Eleven interim chief executive Bob Baily has hit back at the suggestion the convenience store chain has taken an “end justifies the means” approach to running its business.

In an opinion article published by The Conversation, and re-published bySmartCompany this week, David Tuffley from Griffith University and Amy Antonio from the University of Southern Queensland examined the qualities of ethical leaders.
In the article, Tuffley and Antonio referred to several recent scandals to hit large businesses, including 7-Eleven, Volkswagen and Turing Pharmaceuticals.

“All pointed to a business culture using the ‘end justifies the means’ argument to justify unethical if not illegal practices,” the authors wrote.

“While hopefully the exception and not the rule, these cases all left the public asking whether getting caught was seen by some leaders as the worst crime of all.”

The reference to 7-Eleven relates to relates to serious allegations of widespread employee underpayments across the convenience store franchises in Australia, which emerged in the second half of 2015.

The company has since altered its franchise model and a panel led by Alan Fels is assessing individual claims of employee underpayments.

In a statement issued to SmartCompany, Baily said claims 7-Eleven has operated on an “end justifies the means” approach are “without any substance”.

“7-Eleven has never and does not condone practices that deny people their entitlements under workplace laws,” Baily says.

“The truth is when the company’s board and shareholders became aware of a widespread problem of franchisees underpaying their staff, swift and transparent action was taken.”

As well as establishing the panel chaired by Fels, Baily says 7-Eleven has also introduced a range of measures to improve the company’s governance, compliance and oversight.

These measures include upgrades to payroll systems and audits of individual stores, as well as a whistleblower service for franchisee staff, which Baily describes as “visible, auditable, external and confidential”.

“Irrespective of what has occurred, the directors and the company accept, without complaint, the consequences of what has happened if for no other reason than innocent people have been hurt,” Baily says.

“7-Eleven’s board and management is focused on ensuring our company operates with leading best business systems and practices and has the highest possible standards of operational integrity and brand credibility.”

“From our perspective, these are the means to an end.”

Extracted in full from Smart Company.

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