Ethical choices define us. Who are you?

A little while ago, not long after the banking crisis, I was asked what I thought the role of HR was (or should have been) in preventing or avoiding the institutional failures that led to the meltdown. When I mentioned that I thought HR had a role to play as the organisational conscience there were very mixed views in the room.  My view was and remains that you cannot claim that HR is adding value to a business and then in the same breath deny any responsibility for organisational failure. It is a quid pro quo.

As a profession, we have a Code of Conduct and today the CIPD is launching a consultation on that code. What is ethical? What is unethical? And what are the grey areas…the ones that we really REALLY need to discuss?

  • Who does HR work for and where is the balance of power?
  • Can you operate processes and procedures that are knowingly discriminatory because they are too complicated, too expensive to change?
  • Is it fair game to use any source to get information on an employee, or a future recruit?
  • If you felt the future security of employment, the shareholder investment was at risk through malpractice, would you speak out? And to whom?
  • Would you manage out an employee who you believed was a victim of sexual harassment  at the behest of the senior manager who you felt had harassed them?
  • Would you provide personal details of an employee to the CEO if you were uncomfortable with their reason for wanting them?

I guess what I’m asking is,

“Do you know what is expected of you as a professional?”

Regardless of whether you are a CIPD member or not. If you work in recruitment, the law or PR; what standards do you hold dear? And for my American friends, what can we learn from your side of the pond?

I’d really like to hear as wide a debate as possible on this one, a range of opinions.  We have the chance to make our voices heard and steer the agenda….please don’t overlook this opportunity. Comment here, comment on the Linkedin discussion group, comment on the CIPD website, Tweet about it, blog about it…….

Make your views known and encourage others to do the same.

Going back to the original discussion that started this post. Talking personally ……..I needed to be able to look myself in the mirror every morning.  I need to work, that is an undeniable truth.  But I also need to like myself.  And in this world there is no gig good enough to trade the latter off for the former. A line needs to be drawn, but where I draw that line will be very different to where you draw yours. And that is the value of having a professional code.

Ethical choices define us. Who are you?