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Ethics 2018

‘With great power comes great
Ben Parker
Ohio Gas Explosion
Tacoma Bridge
Hyatt Regency Hotel
Walkway Collapse
Ford Pinto
Great Responsibility
TWO men have died and two
others seriously injured in a blast
at a Teesside power station.
“There was a considerable
explosion in a transformer at the
Enron power station. As a result
there are two fatalities and two
people have been injured”
‘Moral principles that govern a
person’s behaviour or the
conducting of an activity’
Oxford Dictionaries
Everything is debateable
Counter terror
or invasion of
Everything is debateable
• So are ethical issues are merely subjective
with no right or wrong?
• The right answer may not always be obvious
• Ethical principals can help us in reaching
ethical judgement
Ethics and the law
physicians all
agree to charge
the same low
Most lying or
cheating on your
‘Similar but different’
• Anne is an engineer working for a company that has an
opportunity to tender for some work on the
construction of a new building.
• Neither Anne nor anyone else at the company is
familiar with one of the materials that the client wants
to use in the project.
• Anne’s boss suggests that they submit a tender for the
work without saying anything about their lack of
experience with the material, and in the meantime
Anne can take the opportunity to learn what she can.
Should Anne go along with this?
• Claire is a mechanical engineer working on the design
of a new make of car.
• The car has passed all of the legally required safety
checks but Claire believes that there may be a problem
with the transmission, that will only manifest itself
after a few years’ use.
• Claire has informed her manager, who has informed
her that he does not believe the issue is severe enough
to delay production until it is fixed.
What should Claire do?
• “If I know that a competitor is bidding unethically, but will
win the business, should I …..
– match their unethical behaviour in order to win the
business which was rightly ours
– expose the unethical nature of the rival bid, therefore
jeopardising the confidentiality of the source
– walk away from the business and retain the moral
high ground?”
How does one compete with
people who lie?
Ethical companies
• Ethical companies tend to have high employee
moral and excellent relationships with
suppliers and customers
• Every employee is expected to learn,
understand and comply with the company’s
ethical standards
Why behave ethically?
• Lead by example and challenges other
organisations to do better
• Sense of pride in the company
• Improves staff moral
• Attracting and retaining staff
• Improves company image
• Helps in negotiations
• Improves relationships with suppliers, customers
but also competitors
Huntsman corporation
(extracts from Mission and Values)
• We will operate safe, clean, efficient facilities in an
environmentally and socially responsible manner.
• We will place into society assistance for those who
suffer, hope for those who may need inspiration and
education for those who may feel the challenge but do
not have the means.
• We believe that ethical and moral standards are the
foundation of good business policies, and will operate
with integrity.
Three approaches to ethics
• All morality aims at the same thing but there
are different ways to get there
– Virtue ethics
– Consequential ethics
– Deontological (duty-based) ethics
• We each tend to favour one approach
• In most cases all three are needed to reach
the best ethical decision.
Virtue Ethics
• What kind of person do I want to be?
• What virtues bring me closer to this goal;
which vices prevent me from achieving it?
• What is the right balance between the above
• Integrity is a primary value.
‘Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no
one is watching’
CS Lewis
Consequentialist Ethics
• What impact is my behaviour having on the
• Am I doing more good than harm
• Actions aim to bring about the greatest good
to the greatest number of people
• Benevolence is a primary value
“…the needs of the many outweigh the needs of
the few.”
The Wrath of Khan (1982), Spock
Deontological (duty-based) ethics
(Is it right?)
• Having a duties to others based on ethical
• What duties do I owe?
• How do I decide between conflicting duties?
• Duty is a primary value
‘We have the Bill of Rights. What we need is a
Bill of Responsibilities’
Bill Maher
False recording of hours worked
Taking credit for the work of a colleague
Stealing office supplies
Using employee discount for a friend
Unauthorised photocopies and printouts
Using a business phone for personal calls
Lavish business expenses
Loafing Around
• Socialising during work hours
• Deliberately doing less work than you are able
• Not doing your bit in group work
Falsifying documents
Lying to or misleading customers
Overpromising to get support for a project
Destroying emails and documents
Bid rigging, cartels and other breaches of
competition law
• Altering financial information to make
company look better or to gain a bonus
• Viewing or sharing confidential information
without authorisation
• Sharing trade secrets
• Insider trading
• Whistle blowing?
Bullying or harassment
Sexual harassment
Gossiping or spreading rumours
Ethics in negotiation
Not sharing bids with competitors
Not taking advantage of mistakes
Avoiding negative surprises
Keep promises
Be willing to say no or walk away from a deal
Corporate Gifts
Corporate Gifts
• Gifts and hospitality play an important
role in building business relationships
– A meal with a customer
– A pen with your companies name on it
– A way of saying thank-you
• But when does a gift become a bribe?
When is a gift not a gift
Intent to ‘induce improper conduct’
‘Disproportionate’ to the scale of business
Just before, after or during a tendering process
Seeking gifts from companies that you do not
currently do business with
• Regular gifts
• Cash
• Gifts for family members
Company Policy on Gifts and
• Some companies prohibit it
• Most companies set bounds
– Maximum value of gift (e.g. £50)
– Type of a gift (e.g. no cash)
– The timing of a gift (e.g. not during negotiations)
– Who cannot receive a gift (e.g. family members)
– Who cannot be given a gift (e.g. public officials)
• Most companies require records to be kept
Engineering Ethics
• Engineering council
– Sets and maintains standards of professional
competence and holds register of chartered
• Royal Academy of Engineering
– Lead on engineering education
– Invest in research and promote engineering
Accuracy and Rigor
‘Professional Engineers have a duty to ensure that they acquire
and use wisely and faithfully the knowledge that is relevant to
the engineering skills needed in their work…’
Act with care and competence
Perform services only in areas of current competencies
Keep knowledge and skills up to date
Assist others to develop engineering knowledge/skills
Not knowingly mislead or allow others to mislead about
engineering matters
• Present and review engineering evidence, theory and interpretation
honestly, accurately and without bias
• Identify and evaluate and, where possible, quantify risks
Honesty and Integrity
‘Professional Engineers should adopt the highest standards of
professional conduct, openness, fairness and honesty’
Be alert to the ways your work effects others
Respect everyone's rights and reputations
Avoid deceptive acts
Take steps to prevent corrupt practices or professional misconduct
Declare conflicts of interest
Reject bribery or improper influence
Act for each employer or client in a reliable and trustworthy
Respect for life, law and public good
‘Professional Engineers should give due weight to all relevant
law, facts and published guidance, and the wider public interest’
• Ensure that all work is lawful and justified
• Minimise and justify and adverse effect on society or on the natural
environment for your own or succeeding generations
• Take due account of the limited availability of natural and human
• Hold paramount the health and safety of others
• Act honourably, responsibly and lawfully
• Uphold the reputation, standing and dignity of the profession
Responsible leadership
‘‘You will hold a privileged and trusted position in society and are
expected to demonstrate that you are seeking to serve wider
society and be sensitive to public concerns’
• Be aware of the issues that engineering and technology raise for
• Listen to the aspirations and concerns of others
• Actively promote public awareness and understanding of the
impact and benefits of engineering achievement
• Be objective and truthful in any statement made in your
professional capacity
Framework for resolving ethical Issues
Gather the relevant facts and identify the problems
Identify the affected parties
Consider the ethical issues involved
Identify which fundamental principles are affected
Refer to the employing organisation's internal
6) Consider and evaluate alternative courses of action
7) Implement the course of action and monitor its progress
Based on ICAEW Framework for resolving ethical issues
• Anne is an engineer working for a company that has an
opportunity to tender for some work on the
construction of a new building.
• Neither Anne nor anyone else at the company is
familiar with one of the materials that the client wants
to use in the project.
• Anne’s boss suggests that they submit a tender for the
work without saying anything about their lack of
experience with the material, and in the meantime
Anne can take the opportunity to learn what she can.
Should Anne go along with this?
Gather the relevant facts and identify
the problems
• Do I have all the facts relevant to the
• Am I making assumptions? Could facts be
identified to replace these assumptions?
• Is it really your problem? Can anybody else
Identify the affected parties
• Who are the individuals, organisations and key
stakeholders affected?
• In what way are they affected?
• Are there conflicts between different
• Who are your allies?
• Who are your opponents?
Consider the ethical issues involved
• What are the professional, organisational and
personal ethical issues?
• Could these ethical issues affect the
reputation of the engineering profession?
• Might they affect the public?
• Might they affect you?
Identify which fundamental principles
are affected
• Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE) ethical principles?
Honesty and integrity (including confidentiality)
Respect for life, law, the environment and public good
Accuracy and rigour
Leadership and communication
• Are there safeguards which can eliminate or reduce the
threats to an acceptable level?
– Professional, legislation/regulation
– Work environment
– Individual
Refer to the employing organisation's
internal procedures
• How can you escalate concerns within the
• Who should be involved, in what role and at
what stage?
• Does the organisation have a whistleblowing
• At what point should you seek guidance from
external sources such as RAE or your
professional body.
Consider and evaluate alternative
courses of action
• Consider
– Your organisation's policies, procedures and guidelines
– Applicable laws and regulation
– Universal values and principles generally accepted by
– Your personal values and duties
– Consequences
• Test your proposed course of action
Have all the consequences been discussed and evaluated?
Will it stand the test of time?
Would it always be appropriate in this situation?
Will it stand to scrutiny from peers, family and friends?
Implement the course of action and
monitor its progress
• It may be in your best interests to document
your thought processes, discussions and the
decisions taken.
• Written records will be useful if you need to
explain or justify your course of action.
References and Further reading
• Psychology Today (3 approaches to ethics)
– https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/am-i-right/201205/3approaches-ethics-principles-outcomes-and-integrity
• Ethics of Gifts and Hospitality
– http://www.ibe.org.uk/userassets/briefings/ibe_briefing_29_et
• Example Policies on corporate gift giving
– http://suppliers.sellafieldsites.com/files/2012/12/COC_5BMay13.pdf
– https://www.essex.gov.uk/Your-Council/StrategiesPolicies/Code-ofGovernance/Documents/Gifts_and_Hospitality_Policy.pdf
– https://hssestorage.blob.core.windows.net/filescontainer/Cana
References and further reading
• The Royal Academy of Engineering
– Statement of Ethical Principals
• http://www.raeng.org.uk/publications/other/statement-ofethical-principles
– Engineering ethics in practice a guide for engineers
• http://www.raeng.org.uk/publications/other/engineeringethics-in-practice-full
• ICEAW Framework for resolving ethical issues
• https://www.icaew.com/technical/ethics/framework-forresolving-ethical-problems