Plenty of policy forces around the world are using or trying out body cameras to change the whole nature of their interactions with the public.
In the US, for example Obama has made $75 million available from Federal budgets for law enforcement nationwide, in the wake of the deadly shooting of an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Missouri. The money will buy as many as 50,000 police cameras.
Body-worn cameras, or wearable technology, can significantly reduce complaints against the police — but it’s never going to be that simple. In the UK, where these devices are more common than in the US, there’s still no clear evidence they produce positive results. Even so:
“We think this could be a very important tool to increase trust and transparency in police forces,” says Dan Nesbitt, a spokesman for an anti-surveillance group in London called Big Brother Watch.
Already we see plenty of London cyclists sporting helmet cameras and ones attached to their bikes to show when they’re cut up or injured by an irresponsible driver.
Now what about business leaders? Trust in them, let alone bankers, remains absurdly low with few signs of improvement. Smart leaders already know they must tackle the credibility gap about their integrity and re-build trust.
It’s not quite as absurd as it sounds. How do you show you act with integrity if you can’t demonstrate this in action? In a large company, CEO interactions with ordinary employees can be relatively scarce and when they do occur, only a few may be there to witness the exchanges.
What if the CEO donned a body camera? Wearing this all day with his or her interactions sent directly to a web site site where everyone in the company—let alone customers—could show this person demonstrating integrity on the run. And what impact might it have?
First, any video record might still need tweaking when it comes to sensitive business meetings where confidential information is discussed. But the rest of the time watching the CEO is action might do wonders for their reputation as an ethical leader, taking decisions, being transparent that people could be proud of.
Secondly, the camera may well inhibit the leader, not just to avoid unethical choices but to behave in forced ways as if permanently appearing on a live television reality show. False smiles, grand gestures and knowing looks might all start intruding in an otherwise normal daily performance.
Why stop at CEOs? Wouldn’t these cameras make a major contribution to reducing sexual harassment and bullying at the work scene if all managers had to wear them? There might even be questions raised about why a camera was turned off at a critical moment of a disputed manager/employee interaction.
Like all innovations therefore, the body camera could be both evil and beneficial. Capable of being inhibiting and intrusive, or inspiring and insightful, it would all depend on where and when the CEO used the body camera and why. For business leaders seven issues to be considered include:
While it may seem far fetched to suggest CEOs wear a body camera, many of them may actually quite like the idea. For example, police officers who you might expect to be wary of the things, have actually been rather keen on them:
“They want it. They want to prove to people that they’re not what is often depicted in the press or the media about how they conduct themselves.”
Inspector Stephen Goodier, PRI, April 10 2015
Maybe CEOs will come to a similar conclusion, that this is one way to show they really have integrity, and spend their time acting responsibly.
Some CEOs are bound to embrace the body camera if only to be the star of their own show. Younger CEOs may be already heavily into wearable technology so adding a camera would hardly be life changing.
For those concerned with issues of civil liberty and opponents of intrusive surveillance the body camera is a worry. While the CEO might be happy to record and appear on video, those caught on camera may be less keen on the experience.
On a purely practical note who will actually want to watch more than a few moments of the CEO in action? Won’t it turn out to be the dullest reality show around, with hours of dreary business conversations and far too many important meetings excluded?
While one picture is worth a thousand words, endless hours of video may not promote integrity, or transparency, merely generate visual indigestion.
What’s your view? Are CEO wearable cameras inevitable, a contribution to executive integrity, or merely a sci-fi fantasy best left to TV soap operas?
- Ramireze, report on body worn cameras, Manning & Kass, Ellrod, Ramirez, Trester LLP
- I am $400 Away From Having Real Integrity, Roy Snell, Corporate Compliance Blog
- A. Eunjung Cha, The Revolution will be digitalised, Washington Post, May 9, 2015