You are a Human Resources Business Partner to an IT team of 45 people in a large financial institution. The team is leading a high profile systems transformation that will take the business through a significant change in the way it deals with customers.
Your colleague and friend who works in the team has confided in you - as a friend and out of work hours – that there is a serious problem with the system and the team is working frantically around the clock to fix it, in time for the launch. The team has been told by the head of the department that unless they fix this issue, up to three of them (randomly) will be held responsible and subsequently lose their job.
It sounds like classic bullying tactics and ludicrous to you that a senior leader in the business would think they could get away with something like that. You vow to your friend to do something about it… but he has sworn you to secrecy. He has recently become a new dad and terrified of losing his job.
Your gut tells you the person making this threat is not new to this kind of behaviour and is probably well practised at avoiding responsibility for it, if accused. Additionally, the person making the threat seems to have the CEO very much on side because of the high profile nature of the transformation and what it will mean for the business.
What would you do? What ethical considerations would you give to your decision-making? Why? Why not?
We encourage you to post your answers in the comments so we can create a healthy discussion, with the aim of learning from our peers, becoming aware of differing perspectives and challenging our own biases.
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