02 May, 2006

check your ethics

Recently, B came under attack for questioning the ethics of the actions of a colleague on a committee for which he is a member. The scenario went something like this:

A committee member distributed an email she had come across within her place of employment to all committee members. The email was titled “strictly confidential” and detailed a request that was made to the organisation she works for that was refused. It was a useless piece of nothing really, unrelated to the business of the committee except to provide a tasty bit of gossip that might give some members of the committee a sense of self-righteous satisfaction.

The author of the email request (made of organisation for which the committee member works) is viewed as being a source of irritation to the committee in that she represents a body that has a similar goal to that of the committee and seems more successful in accessing funds, and doing what she does.

Upon receipt of the email B commented that he didn’t believe it was ethical for the committee to be participating in the distribution of emails obtained from their places of work and therefore not intended for them.

The committee member went off the deepend at her actions being questioned and resigned. This in turn led to a flurry of emails including B, asking the said committee member to reconsider, and a right bollocking from the President of the committee who came down on B for his ‘tactless’ email, and while she was at it thought she’d have a go about anything and everything where B was concerned.

Whoa, and what were the good intentions of this group, I forget…..

In an attempt to get things back on track, B apologised to the committee member, although what he was apologising for I still don’t know – the committee member who distributed the email did the wrong thing. Would her employers have given their blessing that an email sent to them had been forwarded to a committee that has no business in their business? Would the person who sent the email request feel indignant that her email request and response had been distributed to sources not intended by her? I betcha!

And does it make any difference even if they are unlikely to find out?

I have this for the committee member* and President…..

Check YOUR ethics

§ Does the decision violate any of my values?
§ Would I feel embarrassed if my decision became a newspaper headline?
§ Would I feel comfortable describing my actions or decisions to a client? Fund Provider? Employer? my family?
§ Is the dignity and liberty of others being maintained by my decision? Are their opportunities increased or decreased?
§ Are the rights, welfare and betterment of those without power being considered? Is the decision being made on genuine merit-based criteria?
§ Do I hope that others will treat me in the same way?
§ Is the possibility of personal gain clouding my judgement?
§ Would those unfavourably affected by this decision accept the fairness of the way the decision was made?

* the committee member retracted her resignation, and accepted B's apology very mean spiritedly suggesting that B give up his ‘occupation of the morale high ground’, secretly I think she was enjoying the drama.

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