Would $25 million be worth the potential for up to 65 years in jail? That is what William “Rick” Singer is facing as the mastermind behind “Operation Varsity Blues”, otherwise known as the College Admissions Scandal.

Singer was paid by affluent parents to bribe coaches and university administrators to recruit their children and falsify admissions exams at many top U.S. universities.

What’s the real cost of corruption or bribery? It isn’t always an organizations reputation or a regulatory headache. The most significant impact of bribery is its negative effect on morale (HBS Working Knowledge. “The Real Cost of Bribery.” Forbes. 05 Sept. 2013).

According to a recent Gallup study, environments with high morale are more productive, resulting in 21% greater profitability. What does moral have to do with the college admissions scandal?

Operation Varsity Blues, #CollegeAdmissionsScandal, How College Admissions Privilege Keeps Low-Income Students Out, and Prosecutors Going After Students Involved in Scandal are a few of the headlines shinning a light on the corruption and bribery within the school systems of prestigious universities. Some students are frustrated and disappointed at the lack of accountability, while alumni are embarrassed and apathetic towards giving.

What can the colleges and universities do to rebound from this scandal?

The extent of damage of the scandal depends on the following three elements:

  1. Who initiated the under-the-table payment?
  2. How was the bribery detected?
  3. How did the organization respond to the bribe after it was uncovered?

While the headlines are focusing on the admissions scandal, Transparency International reported one in four people paid a bribe within the past year. The World Bank estimates $1 trillion is offered in bribes every year.

The fact is, businesses, governments, colleges, and non-profits are comprised of people, who have the potential to be bribed. Fines, imprisonment, termination of contracts, and significant reputational damages are consequences that can become reality as a result of bribery.

Your organization’s core values are on display in times of crisis, and how crisis leaders react and respond make a difference.

Asfalis Advisors, invites you to expand crisis management at the strategic level in your organization, by booking Vanessa Vaughn, Founder and Chief Resilience Officer of Asfalis Advisors at your company.