When the Boss Wants You to Do Something Unethical

2018.01.25 22:30
CreditPhoto illustration by Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Maybe you’re asked to mislead a customer. Maybe you’re told to lie to a client, or take a shortcut you know would produce an inferior product.

When your boss puts you in a situation that compromises your ethics, none of the options seem particularly great. Go along with the unethical behavior and you become complicit. Report it to a higher-up or outside organization and you could face retaliation.

Start with your boss

First you should make sure you understand what, exactly, your boss is asking of you. Let’s rule out a misunderstanding.

Explain why the request made you uneasy. If you can, cite specific company policies that it seems to defy.

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Paul Fiorelli, the director of Cintas Institute for Business Ethics at Xavier University, suggested you use plain language like: “You’ve asked me to do this, but if I did this it would violate this policy we have. You’re not asking me to do that, are you?”

In many cases, it’s likely the boss hadn’t considered his or her request unethical. Citing specific reasons for your objection could help them see why the request is unreasonable — or could solidify that yes, they really do want you to do something you’re not willing to do.

Either way, you might solve the problem if you can offer a more ethical alternative that would produce similar results.

Escalating your complaint

If it’s crystal-clear your boss is asking for unethical conduct, or if you don’t feel comfortable discussing it with your boss in the first place, the next steps depend a lot on your company.

In larger organizations, there could be someone dedicated to receiving complaints from employees like you. It could be a compliance officer, general counsel, auditor or someone in human resources. It could be the person one or two levels up from your boss.

Beware: Your boss probably won’t like this. (We’ll discuss the risk of retaliation later.)

You might also need to ask: If I complain, will anyone care or will anything change? If you think management would want to sweep your complaint under the rug, assuming the risks of complaining internally might not be worth it.

“Any time the firm’s senior management is financially benefiting from the misconduct, they may not want to know that it is occurring,” said Bryan Stikeleather, a professor at the University of South Carolina who has studied financial incentives for whistle-blowing.

Some companies offer money to entice employees to report bad behavior, which can signal that they’re serious about correcting it. But such monetary incentives can sometimes make employees less likely to report, Mr. Stikeleather said; the rewards can decrease whistle-blowers’ sense of responsibility, making it feel less like a moral obligation.

If escalating internally doesn’t work, or you’re in a small enough organization that there’s no one to hear your protest but your boss, you might have to go outside the organization to the government or media. Patricia Harned, the chief executive of the Ethics and Compliance Initiative, said most people who go this route only do so after exhausting their internal options without seeing results.

Consider the risks

It’s easy for us to say that you should “do the right thing” and flatly refuse any unethical demands. But in reality, the decision is often more complex than that, and there are very real risks you could face.

Fifty-three percent of employees in the United States who reported misconduct in their companies said they experienced some form of retaliation, according to the 2016 National Business Ethics survey by the Ethics and Compliance Initiative. That could include receiving worse evaluations and being passed up for promotions and raises.

At the very least, there could be social costs in whistle-blowing. Some people have found themselves uninvited from happy hours or given cold shoulders in the hallway.

“One man’s whistle-blower is another man’s snitch,” Mr. Stikeleather said.

Mary-Hunter McDonnell, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said at least one high-stakes whistle-blower she interviewed for her research had regrets.

“He said if he could relive it he wouldn’t have done it because it devastated his social life,” she said. "He was no longer invited to join the kind of charitable boards he had been invited to join, or any of the kind of corporate social networks that he had been involved in. He was basically boxed out of the social world he had created for himself as part of his job.”

If all else fails, leave

No one wants it to come to this, and it may not be practical advice if you need the paycheck. But if you’re in position to find another job, this might be good reason to head for the door.

You could even try one last staunch refusal as an ultimatum.

“I think you have to just say no if it’s against your own moral values. You can’t be forced to do something,” Ms. McDonnell said. “The worst thing that could happen to you is you’ll be fired, but you can’t really stay at a job that’s going to ask you to transgress your morals anyway.”


이 글이 속한 카테고리는 사업Business/공감Echo 입니다.


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EICC 전자산업시민연대

2018.01.25 20:00

전자산업시민연대(EICC®) 행동규범 EICC®(Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition©)

행동규범은 전자산업계 전반에 걸쳐 안전한 작업환경을 구축하고, 근로자가 존중 받는 동시에, 환경친화적이고 윤리적인 기업 운영을 위해 제정한 표준입니다. 

본 규범에 따른 전자산업군에 속하는 기업이란 전자제품 생산에 사용되는 상품과 서비스를 설계, 판매, 제조 또는 제공하는 모든 기업을 의미합니다. 

동 산업군에 속하는 모든 기업은 본 규범을 자발적으로 채택하여 활용할 수 있으며, 채택 시 그 기업의 공급망 및 하청업체(인력 파견업체 포함)에도 적용됩니다. 

EICC 참여기업(이하 ‘참여기업’)은 EICC 행동규범을 준수할 것을 선언하고 본 규범에서 제시하는 경영시스템을 기반으로 EICC 행동규범과 관련 표준을 적극적으로 준수할 의무가 있습니다. 따라서 참여기업은 본 규범을 그 기업의 공급망 전체에 적용되는 것으로 인식하여, 최소한 1차 협력사들이 본 규범을 수용하고 이행하도록 요구해야 합니다. 

본 규범을 채택하기 위한 필수 전제조건으로, 참여기업은 경영활동 시 사업장이 위치한 국가의 법규를 철저히 준수해야 합니다. 

본 규범은 기업의 사회적, 환경적 책임과 기업 윤리의 선진화를 도모하기 위한 것으로서, 참여기업이 법 준수는 물론 국제적으로 인정되는 표준까지 따르도록 장려하고 있기 때문입니다. 

UN 기업과 인권 프레임워크 이행지침(UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights)에 따라 본 규범의 조항은 ‘ILO 다국적기업 및 사회정책의 원칙에 관한 3자 선언’과 ‘UN 세계인권선언’ 등 주요 국제 인권관련 표준을 토대로 작성되었습니다. 

EICC는 행동규범의 지속적인 발전과 실행을 위해 이해관계자들의 의견을 정기적으로 수렴할 것을 약속합니다. 본 규범은 다섯 개의 섹션으로 구성되어 있습니다(A~E). A, B, C는 각각 노동, 안전보건, 환경에 대한 표준을 간략하게 설명합니다. D는 기업 윤리에 대한 표준을 제시하며, E는 본 규범 준수에 필요한 경영 시스템과 구성요소에 대해 설명하고 있습니다. 

심사 대상 사업장의 회사방침 또는 단체교섭협약이 존재하고, EICC 행동규범 및/또는 법률/고객사 요구수준보다 엄격한 경우, EICC 및/또는 법률 요건을 준수하더라도 회사방침 또는 단체교섭협약을 준수하지 않는 것은 부적합에 해당합니다. 


자세한 내용은 첨부 자료 참조 (PDF, 한국어판)


1501XX-EICC-VAP-Audit Operations Manual-v501-Ch 12-Korean.pdf


이 글이 속한 카테고리는 사업Business/정보Info 입니다.