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Chapter 6: The Rights and Responsibilities of Engineers
Transcript of Chapter 6: The Rights and Responsibilities of Engineers
Be able to discuss the responsibilities and rights that engineers have.
Understand what a conflict of interest is and knowing how to manage one.
Determine what whistle blowing is and when it is appropriate to blow the whistle.
Confidentiality and Proprietary Information
Information about how a business is run, it's products and suppliers are confidential information that allows the company to compete in the market
Engineers must keep this information private
Most companies have rules about this
Engineers working for a client often must sign a nondisclosure agreement
Although it may seem obvious to whom and when to disclose information, there is grey area, primarily surrounding when a employee moves to a new employer in a similar field
The individual has the freedom to seek career advancements, even with competitors
Companies have right to keep information away from competitors
The balance of these two is up to the individual
Conflict of Interest
There are three types of conflicts of interest
Actual conflicts of interest
compromise objective engineering judgement
Potential conflicts of interest
threaten to easily become actual conflicts of interest
Appearance of a conflict of interest
not an actual conflict of interest, but can still compromise objective engineering judgement
It is best to avoid conflicts of interest in the first place. This is achieved by following company policy, and talking to a coworker or boss when there is question
Engineers and the Defense Industry
Not all rights of engineers come from a professional status, such as privacy
The most fundamental right is the right to a professional conscience
Employers do not always understand this
Because one of the primary functions to the defense industry is the designing and building of weapons, there are people who find it morally unacceptable to take on these projects. Others may take on only certain projects, or any one given him.
The act by an employee of informing the public or higher management of an unethical or illegal behavior by an employer or supervisor
Whistleblowning sits between rights and duties
Types of Whistleblowing
Internal vs. External
Internal is when the employee stays within the company, such as going to a higher supervisor or the president
External is when the employee tells an outside group, such as the media or police
Both are seen as disloyalty, but internal is not as bad
Acknowledged vs. Anonymous
Acknowledged is when the engineer put's his or her name behind the accusations
Anonymous is when the engineer does not allow his name to be known
When should Whistleblowing be Attempted?
Should only be attempted when all four of these conditions are met
Is the situation serious enough that it warrants reporting it?
Must have firsthand knowledge of issues, and remain within area of expertise
Is there a good chance that you can win this argument? Do not feel obligated to ruin job if you will not succeed.
You should only attempt it if there is no one more qualified than you, and all other options have already been explored
When all these are met, it is morally acceptable to to blow the whistle. Then engineer should only feel obligated to blow the whistle when there is great imminent harm to a person if the activity continues
Four key ways to prevent whistleblowing
Strong corporate ethics culture
Clear lines of communication within corporation
All employes must have enough access to high-level managers to be able to bring forth concerns
Willingness of management to admit mistakes, even to the public if the situation warrants it
If all of these are satisfied, and employes need not fear retaliation, then there will be a much lower chance that an employee will feel the need to blow the whistle