What ethical challenges have you faced? (Do not describe individuals or specific organizations but simply describe situations.)
I am sure that I have faced more challenges than memory allows, but I am thinking about 2 separate instances. A previous job responsibility was to administer a company email server. One time a manager called me frantically asking me to “stop an email”. I explained to her that was not possible. Then she told me that she sent an email to a staff person that she regretted. This was before the era of everyone having a smartphone and the manager was confident the staff person had not seen the email.
“Could you log in to their account and delete the email?” I was stuck, because as the administrator I had the ability, but it felt wrong. A superior was asking me to break into a colleague’s email account. Doing so would avoid a lot of stress between the manager and the employee, but it was a huge breach of trust. I was also nervous about telling a manager, “no.” We didn’t have a written code of conduct for technical administrators at that time. Inevitably, violating a space where an employee had some expectation of privacy felt like a serious ethical violation to me.
The second case was when I working for a fairly sick person whose incompetence resulted in company money being used inappropriately. She was an undiagnosed alcoholic, who could not do the job she was hired to do. The ethical considerations were many. She was awful to the staff so it was hard to manage the feelings of “you’re abusive” with “this person needs help, it’s a disease.” Being public about gross incompetence would hurt the company’s reputation and that was not good for customers or staff. This was a very difficult situation with no obvious remedy to an employee with little power.
What values do you believe in? How much do you feel that you are a role model of these values when others observe your behavior?
When I think about values, I think about social justice. I value openness, solidarity, justice, and curiosity. I believe that to achieve a just society we need to be open with ourselves and with each other. We cannot make any necessary changes if we do not reflect on our own selves and are unable to be open about those discoveries with those we trust.
I believe that people must stand in solidarity with one another. Some may call this value “community”, but I think solidarity sets a posture about trusting those around you and knowing they will support you when you need it the most. That doesn’t mean blind loyalty as someone who stands in solidarity with you in the tough times should also give you the feedback needed for personal change.
I believe that it is important for me to be curious about the world around me and I want to surround myself with others who are curious. Obviously, there is a near-infinite amount of knowledge to tap into this world. How can any of us improve if we are not curious about ourselves and the rest of the world?
All of this leads us toward justice. My personal and professional life is completely oriented in the direction toward justice for working people. All of these values come together to form my orientation in contributing to a just society.