The USA Gymnastics is endowed with the duty of encouraging the members to participate in all gymnastic aspects. Furthermore, the organization has a duty to speak the truth and openly with its members without any bias. The intention is to ensure that the members achieve excellence. Therefore, the three most critical issues for USA Gymnastics include:
Participation – USA Gymnastics is endowed with the responsibility of creating a favorable environment to ensure that the members receive a rewarding and positive experience. The issue, in this case, is that the team conduct engaged in a disorderly and inappropriate behavior which interfered with the participation or focus of one of the members.
Integrity – It is the obligation of the USA Gymnastics to maintain the integrity of the gymnastic sports as well as observe the stipulated rules and regulations. Every member should act fairly, willingly, honestly and proficiently. The issue, in this case, is that the organization attempted to conceal, falsify and made a false and misleading statement concerning the conduct of the team doctor.
Sexual conduct – USA Gymnastic members are expected to create a safe haven for the participants, coaches, volunteers, and any other staffs. The issue is that the team doctor engaged in sexual harassment by making unwelcome advances as well as verbal and physical conducts that are sexually suggestive where such behavior created an intimidating, unfriendly and offensive atmosphere for the member.
Applying ethical framework (Consequentialist, Duty, and Virtue) the issues identified
In addressing the issue of participant relationship, the Gymnastics has the overall role of ensuring that the outcomes of the gymnastics sport align with the member’s personal goals. From the consequentialist perspective, the conduct of the Larry Nasser, the team’s doctor is destructive, in that, the future reputation of the gymnastics club is at stake. Furthermore, since everyone knows about the issue that transpired between the doctor and Maggie Nicholas, members or rather participants may feel reluctant to join the club. Overall, the USA Gymnastics is likely to lose a lot of participants. Furthermore, the decision of the USA Gymnastics to cover up the misconducts of the team doctor demonstrates the organization’s lack of transparency and accountability. The US Gymnastics has the duty of ensuring that members are treated with the utmost respect. Any form of misconducts should be dealt with accordingly. The team doctor should not act in any acts that contradict with the stipulated rules and regulations. The team doctor should be a person with great virtues. It is very important for the club to conduct an extensive background check on its staffs to ensure that the persons hired exhibits acceptable personal traits.
Applicable Independent Sector Principles
The applicable independent sector principles in addressing the issues identified are Principle (03) and Principle (04).
As per independent Sector Principle 3,” A charitable organization should adopt and implement policies and procedures to ensure that all conflicts of interest (real and potential), or the appearance thereof, within the organization and the governing board are appropriately managed through disclosure, recusal, or other means”. That is to say, the organization has the duty of loyalty to the members and itself “.
Gymnastic Club is an independent or charitable organization that is expected to adopt and execute policies and processes that ensure any form of conflict of interest is amicably managed using disclosure, recusal or any other effective means. The management of the USA Gymnastics has the fiduciary duty as stipulated in the Constitution including the duty of loyalty to prioritize the interests of the members before their personal interests. However, what is witnessed in the case study is entirely opposite of what the principle stipulates. The USA Gymnastics is applying the double standards measure. On one hand, the organization is focusing on addressing the issues brought forth Maggie Nicholas and on the other hand it is trying to uphold its public integrity by concealing the misconducts of the team doctor. There is a conflict of interest which needs to be managed appropriately to safeguard the organization as well as the aggrieved party from unethical practices.
Principle 04 is also applicable in this scenario. As per independent Sector Principle 4,” A charitable organization should establish and implement policies and procedures that enable individuals to come forward with information on illegal practices or violations of organizational policies. This “whistleblower” policy should specify that the organization will not retaliate against, and will seek to protect the confidentiality of, individuals who make good-faith reports”. That is to say, members or any other person should report any form of misconduct without fear.
An independent organization, such as, a gymnastic club should formulate and implement regulations and processes that allow persons to volunteer information regarding illegal practices or infringement of organizational regulations. It was surprising to identify that sexual harassment was a common behavior in the Gymnastics, but the management never took the initiative of addressing it.
Recommendations for action steps to get the organization back on track
Undoubtedly USA Gymnastics has lost its track and needs to review its principles. One of the recommendations that will likely get the organization back on track is the establishment and enforcement of a written conflict-of-interest guiding principle that will facilitate in the management of real or anticipated conflicts of interests that may compromise the organizational decisions. The guiding principles should address transparency and management of situations that may give rise to conflicts.
It is also recommendable to establish the whistleblower policy if the organization does not have one. The policy should seek to safeguard the privacy of persons that share valuable information with utmost faith. The organization irrespective of its size should establish clear policies and process that enable the staff, volunteers or customers to report any form of unethical practices or behavior without fear of retaliation by the organization.
It is also recommendable to engage an external investigator to evade the possibilities of biases while conducting important investigations. The organization should implement a policy that gives an external investigator the mandate of conducting thorough investigations and reporting the findings that reflect truth and authenticity. It is also recommendable for the organization to perform routine audits of the sexual conduct policies.
What, if anything, can USA Gymnastics do about the clubs, which are private businesses?
USA Gymnastics organization has a significant role that it can play in enhancing the efficiency of the clubs. For example, it can assume the role of an oversight agency by monitoring and assessing how the private gymnastics clubs are operated to prevent issues of sexual misconduct. The organization can also ensure that reporting of suspected sexual harassment is mandatory which will bar private coaching or therapeutic services between a non-parent adult and a teenager. The USA Gymnastics can carry out routine audits of private club policies.