Ethical Commitment

by Terry 9/18/2008 9:58:00 AM

I normally do not discuss my work in my journal. This is generally to draw a clear line and avoid any conflict of interest. Ironically, this post is an exception. I say ironically because I what I am discussing is about ethical commitment and mandated training I am attending today. The first irony is that I am violating my ethics to discuss my employer, while I am undergoing an exercise in ethics and ethical behavior.

My company is committed to exemplary ethical behavior. I find the training difficult to bear, but the corporate culture prevents rational discussion on the topic and is therefore the second irony. My company expects maximum diversity of ideas, open channels of communication, and elimination of intimidation. We cannot compromise the company values. The problem is that by accepting maximum diversity you potentially place your values at risk. As an example, by pointing out this risk-by-diversity issue, I am met with a polite wall of disagreement that ends the discussion; no one can discuss that this contradiction exists, or why. It is not tolerated; no one is rude, it is just not allowed to be discussed.

I am not saying the company should act or tolerate unethical behavior. In fact, I believe the company should be held to high ethical standards. What I find difficult is the intolerance to intolerance and over-acceptance of diversity. Not all avenues and ideas are relevant, and clearly not all things can be accepted in the name of diversity. See Jerry Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy. If you demand diversity, you will eventually regret what you have to endure.

For example, let’s say everyone is required to adhere to a test. At some point a group starts to routinely fail the test and demand an exception. A review is conducted and it is determined a different test applies to the group, so an exception is made.  One day a person fails the test, and demands to be treated under the exception. When two test exist that are potentially mutually exclusive, which one wins?

Now replace the words ‘test’ with ‘law’ and 'fail' with 'break' in the paragraph above. For a real-world example, see “Britain Adopts Islamic Law, Gives Sharia Courts Full Power to Rule on Civil Cases”:

“Dominic Grieve, the shadow home secretary, said: ‘If it is true that these tribunals are passing binding decisions in the areas of family and criminal law, I would like to know which courts are enforcing them because I would consider such action unlawful. British law is absolute and must remain so.’”

My company training also focuses on ethical behavior through open discussion, honesty and agreement that actions remain within company standards. This is the melting-pot concept that made the United States so successful at its birth. You became American, regardless of your origin, but never forced to abandon heritage. Placing diversity above all else makes becoming an American secondary, which creates contradictions. Corporate culture has the same issue. A company should focus on its goals and standards; through open discussion, honesty and agreement that actions remain within company standards. Diversity is acceptable, but not at the expense of the corporate culture.

I applaud my company’s effort to instill and remind its diverse employees there is a standard of acceptable corporate culture and behavior; I just wish the company would drop the blind acceptance of diversity as the ideal of this culture.

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About Terry Losansky

Terry Dee Losansky

I am a software architect, actively practice and teach martial arts and live in Snoqualmie, Washington. I have an amazing daughter who is the jewel of my life.

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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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