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更新时间:2017-7-19 18:23:25 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

When the Boss Wants You to Do Something Unethical

Maybe you’re asked to mislead a customer. Maybe you’re told to lie to a client, or take a shortcut you know would produce an inferior product.


When your boss puts you in a situation that compromises your ethics, none of the options seem particularly great. Go along with the unethical behavior and you become complicit. Report it to a higher-up or outside organization and you could face retaliation.


But it’s certainly possible to raise your concerns without harming your job status or relationships at work. Here’s what you might consider before airing your complaints.


Start with your boss


First you should make sure you understand what, exactly, your boss is asking of you. Let’s rule out a misunderstanding.


Explain why the request made you uneasy. If you can, cite specific company policies that it seems to defy.


Paul Fiorelli, the director of Cintas Institute for Business Ethics at Xavier University, suggested you use plain language like: “You’ve asked me to do this, but if I did this it would violate this policy we have. You’re not asking me to do that, are you?”

赛维尔大学辛塔斯商务道德学院院长保罗·菲欧雷利(Paul Fiorelli)建议,你可以选择使用直白的语言。比如:“你要我做这件事,但如果我这么做,会违反我们的这条规定。你不是在要求我这么做吧?”

In many cases, it’s likely the boss hadn’t considered his or her request unethical. Citing specific reasons for your objection could help them see why the request is unreasonable — or could solidify that yes, they really do want you to do something you’re not willing to do.


Either way, you might solve the problem if you can offer a more ethical alternative that would produce similar results.


If it’s crystal-clear your boss is asking for unethical conduct, or if you don’t feel comfortable discussing it with your boss in the first place, the next steps depend a lot on your company.


Escalating your complaint


In larger organizations, there could be someone dedicated to receiving complaints from employees like you. It could be a compliance officer, general counsel, auditor or someone in human resources. It could be the person one or two levels up from your boss.


Beware: Your boss probably won’t like this. (We’ll discuss the risk of retaliation later.)


You might also need to ask: If I complain, will anyone care or will anything change? If you think management would want to sweep your complaint under the rug, assuming the risks of complaining internally might not be worth it.


“Any time the firm’s senior management is financially benefiting from the misconduct, they may not want to know that it is occurring,” said Bryan Stikeleather, a professor at the University of South Carolina who has studied financial incentives for whistle-blowing.

南加州大学教授布莱恩·斯迪克莱瑟(Bryan Stikeleather)说:“任何时候只要公司高层从一个不当行为中获得经济利益,他们可能就会宁愿不闻不问。”斯迪克莱瑟在举报行为的经济动机方面有研究。

Some companies offer money to entice employees to report bad behavior, which can signal that they’re serious about correcting it. But such monetary incentives can sometimes make employees less likely to report, Mr. Stikeleather said; the rewards can decrease whistle-blowers’ sense of responsibility, making it feel less like a moral obligation.


If escalating internally doesn’t work, or you’re in a small enough organization that there’s no one to hear your protest but your boss, you might have to go outside the organization to the government or media. Patricia Harned, the chief executive of the Ethics and Compliance Initiative, said most people who go this route only do so after exhausting their internal options without seeing results.

如果内部举报不可行,或者你在一个小公司,除了你的上司之外,没有人受理你的投诉,你可能就只能尝试本公司以外的渠道,和政府或媒体联系。“道德与合规行动”(Ethics and Compliance Initiative)的首席执行官帕特里夏·哈耐德(Patricia Harned)说,多数人只有在用尽内部手段无果的情况下,才会选择这条路。

Consider the risks


It’s easy for us to say that you should “do the right thing” and flatly refuse any unethical demands. But in reality, the decision is often more complex than that, and there are very real risks you could face.


Fifty-three percent of employees in the United States who reported misconduct in their companies said they experienced some form of retaliation, according to the 2016 National Business Ethics survey by the Ethics and Compliance Initiative. That could include receiving worse evaluations and being passed up for promotions and raises.


At the very least, there could be social costs in whistle-blowing. Some people have found themselves uninvited from happy hours or given cold shoulders in the hallway.


“One man’s whistle-blower is another man’s snitch,” Mr. Stikeleather said. Mary-Hunter McDonnell, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said at least one high-stakes whistle-blower she interviewed for her research had regrets. “He said if he could relive it he wouldn’t have done it because it devastated his social life,” she said. "He was no longer invited to join the kind of charitable boards he had been invited to join, or any of the kind of corporate social networks that he had been involved in. He was basically boxed out of the social world he had created for himself as part of his job.”

“对一些人来说是检举揭发的英雄,对于另一些人来说,就是告密的小人,”斯迪克莱瑟说。宾夕法尼亚大学教授玛丽-亨特·麦克唐耐尔(Mary-Hunter McDonnell)说,在她为了学术研究而采访过的重大问题举报者中,至少有一人感到后悔。“他说,如果可以重来,他不会那么做,因为这彻底毁了他的社交生活,”麦克唐耐尔说,“他以前被邀请加入一些慈善行动委员会,后来不再被邀请了。工作中,他曾为自己创造出一个社交圈;如今,他已基本上被自己的社交圈拒之门外。”

If all else fails, leave


No one wants it to come to this, and it may not be practical advice if you need the paycheck. But if you’re in position to find another job, this might be good reason to head for the door.


You could even try one last staunch refusal as an ultimatum.


“I think you have to just say no if it’s against your own moral values. You can’t be forced to do something,” Ms. McDonnell said. “The worst thing that could happen to you is you’ll be fired, but you can’t really stay at a job that’s going to ask you to transgress your morals anyway.”