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Posted Monday, April 3, 2006 8:26 PM


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We have heard lots of stories about hackers using social engineering or even paying employees to get information. It is not really amazing anymore and sadly, we kind of expect people to compromise their ethics when dollars are involved.


What is even sadder is our leaders, the management of companies we work for, who are supposed to set an example for work, build pride in the company, and help it to grow, are expected to throw ethics out the window on a regular basis. This story about Morgan Stanley executives pressuring IT to buy certain products in order to get those vendors to bring their banking business is nothing new. In fact most of the IT people I've worked with are surprised when it isn't some political decision such as this that decides which products they will use.


I know that people often scratch each other's backs. After all, each of us on a small scale usually wants to work with someone we know, trade favors, and show some loyalty to each other.


But when you put out a bid, it gets frustrating for the people that work hard to find out what they think is best for the company, or the best solution for a problem and have that circumvented because someone got to go play golf or had tickets to a sporting event given to them.


Or worse, the promise of a job or other financial compensation for steering business rather than awarding it. There are penalties for accepting gifts of this sort, and the article has some advice on avoiding issues if you are worried.


I don't pretend to have a solution. Nor do I think I would be immune to this. Andy, Brian, and I have spent 5 years trying to build a community we're proud of, often putting the profit second or third on the list to having a place we are proud of running.


I just wish it could be different.


Steve Jones







Follow me on Twitter: @way0utwest

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Post #270732
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 3:39 AM


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All those not wishing to get a job/promotion in the future, please insert your objections to being unethical here -->

 

 



Max
Post #270782
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 4:37 AM
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Here in the UK civil service they are very keen on peventing that sort of thing - we have a specialist defence fraud unit to combat it, regular business wide presentations, posters on the wall with telephone numbers for anonymous reporting of suspicious incidents and any hospitality, gifts etc have to be declared in the books provided for the purpose.

Maybe it is bureaucracy going too far but it presents an image of fair competition for tenders (and there is a whole process and tender boards just for receiving those and ensuring no frauds by employees replacing pages etc etc.)

Post #270791
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 4:42 AM


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Bureaucracy too far? Somehow I don't think it goes far enough, especially not all the way up the chain for party "loans" and "donations".

Spot the cynic...

 



Max
Post #270793
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 5:49 AM


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This can be tricky.

Businesses exist to make money. "Trade" implies goods and services exchanged for capital. Capitalism, viewed from space, purports to be a system - partially described as money flowing from consumers to producers; and the producers then becoming consumers of other producer's goods/services; and on the cycle goes.

In a perfect world, all parties benefit from all trade - but the world isn't perfect. There is imbalance in every transaction.

I believe unethical behavior occurs when intentional deception enters the picture. And the usual motives apply: greed mostly, followed by power and influence.

However, not all imbalance is the result of unethical behavior. Hence the trickiness...

Just my $0.02,

:{> Andy



Andy Leonard
CSO, Linchpin People
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Post #270805
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 6:11 AM
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In Canada, the government itself is one of the worst offenders in this type of behaviour (though there are laws to try to prevent it). In some ways when governments enable this kind of culture of waste, the ethical questions become more intense, because it's one thing for a private company to waste its shareholder money, and quite another for taxpayer dollars to be wasted.

What I find more disturbing than when marketing gurus or executives try to impose an option, though, is when IT leaders do it. It seems like neither spend enough time thinking about the productivity and usability factors, and in some cases one solution is as bad as the other.

Case in point, a former client moved to Linux because their new IT guru decided it would be so. There's nothing wrong with such a move, at any level, except that in their case it was done within about 8 weeks, and at every workstation. It ended up crippling them for about 6 months, because their productivity dropped as users struggled, and some back-end support tools staggered to run in the new environments. Like with all these ethically-challenged moves, the reason for making the changes was personal fervor, and it blinded the decision-maker to the risks.

Maybe when the rubber hits the road, what we're talking about isn't unethical behaviour at all, though, but just old-fashioned stupidity?

Post #270814
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 6:35 AM
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Regarding the article referenced in the editorial, there is an admonition to never accept a gift of more than 'nominal' value. I've never seen a definition of 'nominal' relative to the value of a gift and the vendor giving them. Could hard-to-get sports tickets be considered of 'nominal' value by the vendor if the vendor deals in multi-million dollar valued items on a regular basis? How does the term 'nominal' help the recipient avoid danger if it cannot be defined equally on both sides of the transaction?

Perhaps the admonition should be to only accept gifts cleared by the legal departments of both companies. That gives the lawyers their say and the recipient the ability to avoid litigation.


------------
Buy the ticket, take the ride. -- Hunter S. Thompson
Post #270821
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 7:02 AM


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Max,

I feel very sorry for you if the only way you can get ahead in your company is to behave unethically.  If I felt that my company was forcing me to do something that was unethical, I would quit.

The major problem that we are seeing with company after company (and govt after govt) is that one person decided to do something wrong (usually for money) and convinced the next person to do go along with it.  Then the next one and so and so on.  If someone in the chain had stood up to them and said NO.  Reported them, called the papers, anything, this would have stopped and perhaps we wouldn't have so many scandals in the papers these days.

I don't want to hear that "this is the only way to get ahead".  That's baloney and we know it.  A line has to be drawn somewhere.  If we don't, then nothing will be sacred, and everyone will be left hanging in the wind as person after person decides that it's OK to screw over the person next to them, as long as they get a bigger share of the pie.  But that will be only until the person on their other side puts the screws to them.

Will it be easy?  Doubtful, we might end up going through several jobs.  But when it comes down to it.  I want to be able to look my son in the eye and have him know that I did what was right.

Bill



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Post #270834
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 7:10 AM
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What a very high moral tone and how wonderful that it can be taken...Know that Max can well defend himself but I'm just fascinated by the interpretations...I read his response as one that said "everybody does it - either willingly or because circumstances coerce them into doing so..and that's the sad reality"...a cynic's approach but too close to the "real world" to be deemed a fantasy...







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Post #270840
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 7:33 AM
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The idea known as moral relativism (there are no absolute moral standards, right and wrong are what the individual decides) has brought us to this point in time.  Two jobs back I reported to a corporate controller who would not accept a lunch, tickets, nothing from a potential vendor.  He felt that in following this course of action, there would never be even the appearance of impropriety in the decision process.  Too bad there aren't more like that setting the tone for those lower on the food chain.  The fish rots from the head down.




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