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How to do the right thing when others are doing the wrong thing
Humans are social animals, and we take our cues from the people around us.
If we are influenced by people of high integrity, we tend to emulate their example. But if we find we are around people who cut corners, fudge results, disrespect or harass others, lie, cheat, or steal, etc., we don’t have good examples to calibrate our standards.
When we find ourselves in these situations, we always have choices (although they may not always be easy choices):
Figure out what your integrity standards are, and make the choice to live up to them. Like your mom may have said when you were young, “If everyone else was jumping off a bridge, would you jump, too?” Don’t jump.
Communicate your expectations. Let your team, your clients, your supervisor, etc. know what your standards are. You can even add language to your proposals that express the ethics of your team and your firm. It reassures the good folks and may scare off the people who would try unethical things.
Fire the client. If the client is asking you to falsify records, cheat sub-contractors, etc., they should not be your client.
Change teams. If you have an unethical supervisor, go work for someone else. If you have unethical co-workers, discuss your concerns with your supervisor. Stick to the facts. The concern is not what you already know they have been doing—it’s what other stuff they have been doing that you DON’T know about, and who they might throw under the bus if they continue. If the supervisor does not address this, it may be time to go to HR.
Document, document, document. Put everything in writing. Again, stick to the facts—names, dates, statements, etc. If the person whose integrity concerns you is in the same office, consider keeping copies of this documentation in a second location.