Who Decides What Is Ethical?

In the video below on CxO Talk, I asked Rob Chesnut, Former Chief Ethics Officer of AirBnB, the framework needed for ethical behavior inside organizations.

In my view, ‘who’ decides ‘what’ is ethical behavior matters here. This goes back to the moral compass of the leaders who lead by example and not just by cheap talk. Whenever there are doubts about ethical behaviors inside organizations, we should be transparent about it and ask:

  1. How is ethical behavior systemized in terms of policies, procedures and incentives in your organization?
  2. Who manages the ethical standards of your organization? Hint: It is not one person.
  3. Why ethical behaviour is important for your organization and those you interact with?

Khan’s Oath For Technology Professionals

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this pledge:

I will respect but also appropriately challenge the hard-won technological gains of those technology professionals in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with that diversity of people who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of organizations and society, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of technology-first and technology-last.

I will remember that there is art in technological implementations in addition to business and technology frameworks, and that warmth, empathy, ethics, and understanding should outweigh the manager’s bias, the analyst’s conclusion, and the system’s algorithms.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not”, nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another one are needed for technological improvements.

I will respect the privacy of my users, for their information is not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially I must tread with care in matters of using data to positively or negatively affect decisions. If it is given to me to have a positive impact, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to have a negative impact; this must never happen as I should make every effort to be aware of my own biases while being aware of the big picture. Above all, I must realize although important, technology shouldn’t be the de facto solution to everything.

I will remember that I do not just address a support ticket, a software bug, a cybersecurity threat, a network issue, a system feature, but my actions can directly and indirectly adversely affect people in organizations and societies. My responsibility includes taking into account these interconnected issues and solutions if I am to improve anything.

I will prevent misuse of technology whenever I can, for addressing issues immediately is preferable to delaying it.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those who understand the technology and those who do not.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with inspiration thereafter? May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of helping those who seek my technological expertise.

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