BNET Readers Share Their Ethical Lapses

Last Updated Oct 17, 2008 2:36 PM EDT

Last week we asked BNET readers to share their ethical lapses and what they learned them. To our surprise, several folks were offended by the very nature of the question, as if we thought ethical lapses were something to be glorified. Writes jwood:
What were you thinking? Having your readers gloat over their unethical exploits? And then select the "best?"
Not at all. In fact, we're going ask you to rate each of the lapses, asking whether it was "understandable and forgivable," "at the line," or "unforgivable." Here goes.

namfus writes:

Six years ago, I basically allowed my boss to manipulate my performance review and the HR department in order to sack me.[poll id=60]
martikirchmer writes:
Some years ago, in the interest of protecting my employees, I was aggressive about reporting my boss every time he bullied my co-workers or staff. He was indeed a bully -- everyone agreed (including HR and his boss) but in trying to bring the problem to a head, my actions were not particularly admirable. The story ends with me (voluntarily) leaving. He is still there.[poll id=61]
kschroth writes
Our department head (and my boss) was a super slacker. We conducted a cue and eventually after gathering much evidence against him, made a call to the CEO of the company who was out of state. As stated above this was not received well. We were thought of as deserters. In the end, he got sacked, I moved up, managed the department for awhile before the whole company fell in.

Not sure what I DID learn, but I know that wasn't the right way to handle it, even though it seemed so at the time. Bummer, but in corporate America it is essential to CYA whether a manager or a peon. Someone usually has something brewing. I have since moved to a smaller organization and LOVE IT!![poll id=62]

And I'm not squeaky clean, either. Here's mine:
A long, long time ago I was employed at a fashionable retail shop. I got along well with the manager, but one day found out he had been deceptive with the absentee owners -- he had a number of times closed the store a couple hours early so that he could see a movie--

The ethical response would have been to call the owner and tell him. But I didn't want to seem like "a rat." A few months later, we had a bit of a falling out over a questionable firing. At that point I saw an opportunity for advancement and called the owner and told him about the manager's movie-going antics, leaving a message.

It all backfired, of course. For starters, I immediately felt awful about being a rat. Then, as it turned out, the owner had already got wind of the manager's transgression and given him a proper dressing down but forgave him because he was an otherwise competent manager and a terrific sales person. In fact, the owner saw through my little game and almost fired me for my "disloyalty" to my manager. Hard feelings; damaged relations all around.

Lesson learned: It always comes back to bite you.[poll id=63]

Lastly, CanadianBusine offers up a current events scenario:
We needn't look far to ferret out some lessons. Here are two examples:

$23 billion of American taxpayer money lost, stolen or improperly accounted for in Iraq. Complete and utter disregard for the most basic procurement and supply chain management guidelines and then punishment of those who seek to bring this to light.

Sub-prime mortgage meltdown. Plenty of blame being leveled at the government for telling the banks to offer loans to squishy buyers. However, no one forced any bank to violate basic mortgage lending guidelines and then make millions in bonuses from selling this junk paper to equally short-sighted institutional investors.[poll id=64]