The ethics of being a confidant... what would you do?

Wednesday 10 June, 2020
by The Banking + Finance Oath
You are a Human Resources Business Partner to an IT team of 45 people in a large financial institution. The team is leading a high profile systems transformation that will take the business through a significant change in the way it deals with customers.

You are a Human Resources Business Partner to an IT team of 45 people in a large financial institution. The team is leading a high profile systems transformation that will take the business through a significant change in the way it deals with customers. Woman whispering

Your colleague and friend who works in the team has confided in you - as a friend and out of work hours – that there is a serious problem with the system and the team is working frantically around the clock to fix it, in time for the launch. The team has been told by the head of the department that unless they fix this issue, up to three of them (randomly) will be held responsible and subsequently lose their job.

It sounds like classic bullying tactics and ludicrous to you that a senior leader in the business would think they could get away with something like that. You vow to your friend to do something about it… but he has sworn you to secrecy. He has recently become a new dad and terrified of losing his job.

Your gut tells you the person making this threat is not new to this kind of behaviour and is probably well practised at avoiding responsibility for it, if accused. Additionally, the person making the threat seems to have the CEO very much on side because of the high profile nature of the transformation and what it will mean for the business.

What would you do? What ethical considerations would you give to your decision-making? Why? Why not?

We encourage you to post your answers in the comments so we can create a healthy discussion, with the aim of learning from our peers, becoming aware of differing perspectives and challenging our own biases.

If you would like to submit an ethical dilemma to feature in an upcoming weekly challenge please email: dilemma@thebfo.org.


Photo by Maxime Caron on Unsplash

Comments

There are 3 comments for The ethics of being a confidant... what would you do?.

What would you do? Your weekly ethical dilemma challenge

Thursday 9 May, 2019
by Greg Ball
You would expect the company to have processes to cover this under whistle-blower policy, where people can remain anonymous. Additionally I would raise the issue with my superior and document the meeting

Re: The ethics of... being a confidant

Thursday 11 June, 2020
by Ian S
Recommend that the people who have been warned document the conversations that have had with their boss. Time Date etc and as much detail. They should sign the documents. Then they should prepare a case for remediation of the situation and present that to the boss. If they get taken out as a result of non delivery they would have a good case with evidence of his and their actions. Next step would be to take it to the CEO if necessary and an industrial tribunal if they get fired.

Re: The ethics of... being a confidant

Friday 12 June, 2020
by George
Yes, I agree with the last comment. I would consult with my superior. Also, I would check-in on the head of department to ask about this crucial project, without letting her know that there has been a report, and offer my help to ensure the team is functioning well. This may take the pressure of her to act in a bullying way.

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The Oath

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