Friday, August 13, 2010

Not so common ethical issues at work

When we talk about being ethical at work, we tend to think about being honest with our boss and coworkers, completing assignments in a timely manner, etc. For instance, my main moral issue at work is just being dependable. However, every once in a while we are unexpectedly challenged in much different ways. The company I work for implements software solutions to help businesses run more effectively and a couple of weeks ago we were approached by someone in Boston who wanted our help with a prospect of his.He was very cautious with the information he shared with us about the organization so we did not even know their name. After working with him for a week, he asked us to demo our software to the organization and afterward we would finally know who this mystery client was.

My first inclination that there might be a problem occurred the day before the demo. We had a phone call with the partner to discuss the demo and he gave us an example of the work the organization does. He said, "They receive money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for example, and use it to build HIV clinics in Africa." Now to most people this would not be a big deal, but when I hear, "HIV clinics in Africa" it usually means handing out condoms like they are candy. I was a little nervous, but decided to give the company the benefit of the doubt. The next day we did the demo and they were very interested in our product. Afterward we googled the organization, called Pathfinder International, and from their website we found out that the problem was much bigger than I had suspected. One of the main things they do is build abortion clinics in third world countries. I was shocked. I have never had to do business with a client like this before. We talked it over and decided to walk away from the project.

Needless to say the partner was not happy. This was a multi-million dollar deal for him and he could not do it without us.We asked him to explain to Pathfinders why we would not do business with them. Maybe it will cause them to think about what it is they do and whether it actually helps women. Or maybe they will label us socially backwards and uncaring and move on. Most importantly I feel blessed to work for a company that cares more about what is right than about what will bring in the most money. I would have found it very difficult if we had taken the project and I had been expected to build a system that would help a non-profit organization more effectively build and operate abortion clinics.

This was an enlightening experience for me because it showed a whole different side to the abortion issue and how it can creep into our lives.Thankfully, it was easy for us to walk away from the temptation that we would not be morally culpable if we had helped this organization. It makes me wonder though why in such big ethical dilemmas it is often easier to make the right decision, but yet I still struggle with something as small as being at work on time.


  1. BRAVO! Praise God for His Glory as expressed by His faithful servants. May you continue to enjoy His grace and blessing. Your witness will go a long way to bring down the lies that are so pervasive today! Thank you for sharing and God bless.

  2. Well a good and faithful servant, perhaps a tardy servant, but good and faithful to be sure!