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Sex, Lies, and Leadership

Recent revelations that boards have dismissed and covered up child sexual abuse are as shocking as they are sickening. Powerful organizations – even those not implicated in such abuses – need to ensure that no staff are using their positions to take advantage of vulnerable people or groups.

LONDON – News events can often serve as important catalysts for introspection, not least for members of company boards. Recent revelations of the Russian government’s involvement in hacking into the Democratic National Committee’s computer system – just two years after North Korea’s hack of Sony Pictures – has spurred a push in boardrooms around the world to tighten their organizations’ cyber security.

Likewise, stories of illegal or unethical labor practices – for example, among Apple suppliers in China – have inspired companies to take a close look at their supply chains. And criticism of excessive executive remuneration has led to frantic meetings by many boards’ compensation committees. But there is one issue in the news that has not yet received sufficient attention in boardrooms: child sexual abuse.

In the United Kingdom, the last month has brought harrowing reports about child abuse in youth soccer teams, where promising young athletes attempt to play their way to the professional level. At last count, 98 amateur and professional clubs in the UK were implicated in some way.

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