I heard it on the Radio...

My alarm clock plays music every morning to wake me up. This morning, as I was shaking the cobwebs from my brain, I heard a popular morning show’s DJs asking the question Why are you up so early.  To my shock and amazement I heard a caller tell them she was up early because she had to terminate two people before 7 am. Yes, I heard it on the radio….

The DJs sounded a little surprised at the caller’s message and asked quite a few questions, like what type of industry, why was she having to terminate the people, was she upset at having to do this, etc. Enough to get a picture of what was going on, but not enough to identify specific people or company.

OMG.  Really?! Now I did not know the caller or recognize her voice. But if I were one of the two people being terminated and I just happened to be listening to this radio station at this time of day, I would be extremely upset over learning about the termination and hearing this aired in public.

Let’s talk about business ethics and common sense. This is a perfect example of the type of scenarios I regularly provide in my ethics programs. This situation involves the concepts of confidentiality, professionalism, trust, integrity, and accountability. It also shows poor judgment and just may have gotten the HR caller into very hot water.

Let’s look at the facts. Sensitive and confidential information was announced on a public forum. The stakeholders involved were the caller and the people being terminated, as well as the company itself.  The potential consequences are huge – the caller may have violated employment laws that could cost her employer in lawsuits and damaged reputation. It reminded me of the LinkedIn discussion someone sent me a few years ago where a newly promoted CFO wrote a public discussion question asking for help in reorganizing his accounting department. Within an hour of publishing this to LinkedIn the CFO vanished. I wonder what will happen to this HR caller?

Do people really think that nobody is listening or that this type of sensitive information can remain a secret just because we can’t see faces on the radio? Why did this caller even feel the need to make the call in the first place?  This just boggles my mind. And reminds me of the value of own mission to provide a safe, creative practice arena for learning to solve ethical dilemmas before they cost time, money or reputation!

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