24 Engineering Ethics: An Industrial Perspective
tenure at the current job will have been at least 12 months. Twelve months
is the minimum length of time required for job duration so that managers
do not consider an applicant “unstable. During the interview process, the
recommendations of current colleagues are not requested. However, care
should be taken in announcing departure to a new job in order to preserve
recommendations for future jobs.
In announcing his or her resignation, the engineer should give a
personal reason for leaving that in no way reflects on the company and
should give this reason to everyone. One example of a successful reason
I have observed is, “My wife will be giving birth soon, so I wanted to
change jobs so I could spend more time with my family. Was this the
true reason? More likely, the decision to leave had more to do with
losing Medicare reimbursement for the company’s medical products
(the government reimburses physicians for medical procedures using
certain types of equipment), which would eventually lead to decreasing,
rather than increasing, rates of annual sales.
Standing by the stated personal reason and deflecting blame from the
company improves the engineer’s chance of receiving a positive recom-
mendation later from his direct supervisor. It also prevents a decrease in
employee morale. In fact, when one chief executive officer (CEO) received
a candid, logical set of reasons based on company policies from one of his
direct reports as to why he was leaving, the CEO asked for excuses he
could provide in an e-mail explaining the direct report’s departure. All of a
sudden, this very urban individual was looking forward to fishing, hiking,
and stargazing in his new job.
WHISTLEBLOWING
In some cases, an engineer chooses to fight an unethical situation in an
attempt to correct the problem. Historically, this action has been referred
to as whistleblowing. As defined by Schinzinger and Martin, “whistleblowing
occurs when an employee or former employee conveys information about
a significant moral problem to someone in a position to take action on
the problem, and does so outside regular in-house channels for addressing
disputes or grievances” (Schinzinger and Martin, 2000). When the informa-
tion is conveyed to someone within the organization, it is called internal
whistleblowing. When it is conveyed to someone outside the organization, it
is called external whistleblowing.
Whistleblowing is an unfortunate term. As Unger observed, “It conveys
the wrong impression, of someone running around, being noisy and
disruptive, behaving in an erratic way. Which is the very opposite of all the
engineer whistleblowers I’m aware of. They did everything they could to
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