Is workplace impropriety the elephant in the room?

First Harvey Weinstein, then Capitol Hill. Fall 2017 has had its fill of news about workplace scandals. While Hollywood and Washington D.C. may seem completely different than our less glamorous jobs, no industry is immune from the type of misconduct we have been hearing about. The stories are sickening. Yet, I also wonder about the incidents that never make headlines—the uncomfortable workplace scenarios for which there is no outright policy violation. What should someone do in these cases, especially when the instigator holds a position of power?

In my first job out of college, my manager’s boss was what I would classify as a creep. He never violated any company policies, but his “innocent” comments—paired with his obvious stares—were telling. He made me uncomfortable, but nothing he did was “reportable.” I absolutely felt my subordinate status, as well as my tender age of 22, so I ignored his behavior and tried to avoid him. My colleagues might have been dealing with the same thing, but no one talked about it. There were only rumors about his preference in hiring peppy, petite females. 

Looking back, I wish I had felt more empowered to speak up, to respectfully convey how I felt. However, I imagine he would have stressed his innocence, and I would have walked away feeling stupid and doubting myself. Who knows how speaking up would have impacted my career. Whether a blatant offense or subtle innuendo, those at the receiving end do not always have good options. A recent CNN article about Capitol Hill makes this abundantly clear. In one way or another, victims are faced with consequences, even if they ultimately triumph.

What To Do

Back to my earlier question of what to do. I strive to offer blog posts with action items, but this time I do not have clear answers. We teach children about “stranger danger” and warn teens about online predators. I’m not convinced that there is enough dialogue with young people entering the work force about the improprieties they may encounter and what their options might be. We need to better prepare them because we cannot assume that employer policies and related training, no matter how strong, will protect everyone. I realize that workers of any age can be victims. I’m specifying young people because I believe this is when the education should begin—at the ground level. However, for anyone who experiences workplace discomfort due to another employee (“reportable” or not), the best path may be to consult with HR.

Last, but not least, I have to put in a word for the truly innocent people who are falsely accused. Unfortunately, there will always be a handful of people who take advantage of the system out of spite. I don’t know what else to say. Being careful about the colleagues with whom we associate will not guarantee anything.

Final Thoughts

Commercial Card content will return for the next post. I was compelled to write about workplace misconduct this week because of my own mild experience that came flooding back to me while reading articles on the well-publicized scandals. I cannot imagine the pain that surely comes with greater ordeals.

Security Alert

On a completely different note, LinkedIn accounts are getting hacked. For more information, I published a related article today:

About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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Dive into continuing education.

Many people have asked me about where to find easy-on-the-wallet continuing education events. This is a worthwhile quest regardless of your industry experience or professional credential status, so following are my suggestions specifically related to virtual endeavors.  


Below are examples of sources through which I have attended complimentary webinars. Your card issuer is another potential avenue, as some routinely schedule free webinars for clients. I have had the pleasure of fulfilling the speaker role for many such events.

In addition, AP Now offers a couple different options. If you participate in their research, you are invited to attend the related webinar. They also have an annual webinar pass available for purchase. Paying for relevant education can be worth it, especially when you know the source delivers good quality content.  


  • Most free webinars are sponsored by an industry provider. You might hear a sales pitch, even if this is not the intent of the event host. If it happens, view the pitch as an opportunity because it, too, can be educational.
  • Share key points from a webinar with your management and note how you can apply the information to benefit your organization.
  • Strive to attend a webinar every month to broaden your knowledge. While job demands can pull us in multiple directions, taking 60 minutes for professional development is time well spent.
Take the plunge to explore cost effective educational events. 

Take the plunge to explore cost effective educational events. 

If You Hold a Professional Credential...

  • Be familiar with the requirements for credential renewal, so you can look for eligible continuing education events. However, do not automatically skip something if it does not qualify. If it interests you, go for it.
  • Track what you have completed on an ongoing basis, so you do not need to scramble as your credential expiration draws near. 

Related Resource

About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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Make your next conference experience count.

Plan ahead to get the most out of conference networking and educational opportunities. Everyone, including road warrior exhibitors, can benefit from some extra forethought. Motivated attendees can gain something from every conference no matter what the agenda. 

Why are You Going?

Answer this question before you even register. Identify your greatest job challenges and/or areas of interest. Plan to attend the sessions that will likely benefit you the most. Review the conference program in advance, if available. If the reason you are going is “my boss told me I have to go,” this leads to the next point.  

What are Your Employer’s Expectations?

Be clear about this before you go to avoid disappointing your management team when you return. Will you need to provide: 

  • a summary of your conference experience?
  • possible solutions for a problem or new initiative?
  • exhibitor information and any related materials?
  • business cards from certain organizations?

Also, what are their expectations about your connectivity to the office while away? Ideally, since they are paying for you to attend, they will encourage you to not be distracted by email.

Plan for Effective Networking

Sometimes it can be awkward to mingle and network, especially when you do not know anyone, so have some questions ready. Keep your job challenges and interests in mind. Conversation starters include:

  • Do you have a solution for _____?
  • Do you know anyone who could help with ____?
  • What did you think of the keynote speaker?
  • Did you attend ______ session? I really liked the tip about _______. Have you tried that?

Resist the urge to keep your phone in hand. For all the good mobile devices have done, they are a crutch when it comes to networking. 

We know that people are less open in conversations if the other conversant puts a cell phone on the table. Even if it’s turned off. The sign is enough to close the mind…
— Douglas Rushkoff
Unplug from what is happening in the office; g et energized at a conference.

Unplug from what is happening in the office; get energized at a conference.

A Conference is What You Make of It

As attendees, we cannot control the conference agenda, speakers, venue, food, etc., but we can control our response to these elements, even when something is not ideal for us. Each attendee has the opportunity to:

  • acquire actionable tips
  • gain new industry knowledge
  • share expertise to help others
  • be inspired
  • make meaningful professional connections

Take full advantage while there. After all, how often can we do all these things within the span of a few days in the office?

If a certain round of breakout sessions does not include anything directly related to your goals, consider other options. Attend a session on a topic you know nothing about to learn something new. Go have coffee with a new connection. Visit exhibit booths if applicable. As a last resort, use that hour to catch up on email, so you can focus on the conference the rest of the day.

Two Tips from Others

From Scott Belsky, 5 Tips for Making the Most of a Conference: Distill every talk down to one key takeaway. After each presentation, ask yourself what struck you, what did you learn? What is worth additional consideration upon your return to real life?

From Bill Lampton, Ph.D., Top 10 Tips for Attending a Conference: Become an active participant, asking questions and making comments. The topics will take on new life for you.  

Nothing beats preparation, but also be flexible once you are onsite. You might be presented with a great opportunity that was not in your original plans. I’m looking forward to attending the NAPCP conference next week in San Antonio. It will be the first time since 2003 that I simply attend, versus work at, the conference. I hope to see you there!  

About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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