Professional ethics is a significant part of the business world we live in. Regardless of what the situation might be, it is always a good idea to behave in an ethical manner at the workplace. For any individual seeking successful career advancement, abiding by the code of conduct should be a necessity and not an option. For IT (Information Technology) professionals such as security analysts or consultants, there are many ethical decisions at stake and the most common revolve around privacy. For instance, IT security personnel have access to companies confidential information and systems thus giving them a great deal of power. Consequently, the employee may inadvertently or deliberately abuse his power and breach the code of conduct by eavesdropping on private e-mails on the network or even place key loggers on all computers at the workplace to capture relevant data such as login information of other employees and capture what they type. These are just some of real life examples of unethical practices and issues that IT professionals face in the 21st century that hinder them from career growth. From this insight, following the code of conduct plays an imperative role in the IT career advancement. Bello (2012) explains that the impact of ethical leadership among corporate employees can boost career through building trust, making connections that advance career opportunities, fosters commitment, and job performance. It is always important to consider that the most valuable asset any individual has is his reputation in the organization. Therefore, keeping a positive reputation through ethical principles and professional values play a key role in enjoying a successful career throughout your life. In this light, this article aims to discuss how ethics can impact my IT career. To achieve this, the paper will explore ethical theories that best guide the practice, discuss situations and goals that an IT professional might face while seeking career advancements, and finally it highlights how ethics impacts relations with superiors, co-workers, client, and vendors.
Many scholars and analysts agree that establishing high professional values and ethics increases the chances of success in any career. Any employee who is capable of demonstrating informed decisions based on ethical considerations is always preferred by the managers. A good reputation is; therefore, the key to achieving success and conversely, a poor reputation loses the trust and respect of people within and outside an organization hence it dims your chances of career growth. In extreme cases, developing unethical decisions in some careers such as IT may lead to legal actions against and criminal penalties (Ingram, 2016). For instance, Burke and Goldman (2014) of CNN News reported that Sony Pictures employees sued the company and its IT team for privacy issues and confidentiality. Sony had been a victim of frequent hackings that exposed the employee's personal data; such legal actions against renowned companies like Sony portray the company with a bad image. From this, IT professionals in companies can learn the implications of pursuing unethical practices that might violate the code of conduct.
Ethical Theories that Best Guide Behaviors of IT professional
Ethical theories provide rationale and justification of moral arguments. Relating this to business perspective, it is important for IT practitioners in a company to develop a code of conduct for the use of computer technology based on ethical theories. There is infinity of ethical theories we can apply to analyze professionals in information technology. However, this section will discuss the theories of Kantianism and Utilitarianism that best guide IT professionals in advancing their careers.
Kantian Theory: According to Iacovino (2002), the philosopher Immanuel Kant proposes in this ethical theory that the outcome of an action on whether a duty is fulfilled and not the consequences. Kant believed that actions such as lying were wrong and should not exist within society (p.61-63). From this perspective, IT professionals should comply with moral rules in a workplace for them to advance their careers. In Kants version, it is the moral obligation of people within a given environment to act just and do what is right. As Kant, emphasizes, we have a priori duty as professionals to respect other peoples autonomy. Accordingly, one principle emerges from this theory and indicates that IT professionals should avoid any acts that might invade the rights and privacy of stakeholders (Mason, 1995, p.56; Berzai, 2012).
Act Utilitarianism Theory: Founded by philosopher John Stuart Mill, the ethical theory of utilitarianism is a moral principle that places right and wrong doing as a situation that results in the greatest benefits. Act utilitarianism viewpoint is that people should choose events, activities, and make decisions that make them happy. This approach disregards whether the benefits are produced through manipulations, lies, or coercion, as long as the course of action brings benefits to everyone. This theory might sound somehow self-centered as Jackson (2015) explains; however, it is factored by the need of society. For example, a senior IT professional might have two choices in the workplace; to go to lunch during the lunch break or to forfeit the break and help an intern to familiarize with the companys operations. The act utilitarian approach is to help the intern because it renders the greatest amount of happiness for both parties (p.2). After reviewing this theory, it is my position that it best support my personal principles. For instance, its primary goal is to seek happiness for all parties. Something I believe reflects in my professional career.
Moving from ethical theories to applying ethics in a contemporary IT issue, professionals in my field are faced with ethical decisions that might undermine their integrity and career. For instance, hacking with the malicious intention of causing data loss and breaches tarnishes the reputation of the company and eventually the persona as well. Jackson (2015) argues that such actions by IT professionals can negatively affect the company and hurt stakeholders involved. From this insight, people with the intentions of violating privacy rights in a company should receive harsh penalties. For any business, consumer data is a crucial asset, and its violation can be termed as criminal in nature (Charlesworth & Sewry, 2009). To support this notion, we can apply the ethical theory of Act Utilitarianism to demonstrate why it is unethical for IT professionals to violate the privacy of its employees and hacking with malicious intention of stealing data. One of the principles of the theory is that total happiness should be achieved for everyone. When IT professionals maliciously hack into a company's system, crucial employee and customer data can be revealed or stolen, and it compromises the happiness of the stakeholders involved. When this occurs, it may tarnish the reputation and career of the specialist. Secondly, the second principle of act utilitarian theory mandates that events, activities, or decisions of people should lead to positive outcomes. Unethical practices by IT professionals such as system hacking and eavesdropping on employees is termed as an illegal activity and ends up with adverse outcomes. Consequently, it eventually puts the career of the employee at stake. Therefore, from the above literature review, the Act Utilitarianism theory is the best approach that can guide the behaviors and decisions of IT professionals towards the chosen career path.
Goals and Situations IT professionals Might face while Seeking Career Advancements
Identifying personal values such as optimism, simplicity, common sense, hard work, value, trust, and individuality are the core foundation on which I have built my career as an IT professional. Such values have guided my decision-making, and I cannot compromise on them if I am to achieve my primary goal of holding a senior IT position in a reputable company. Nonetheless, there are some situations that I might face as an IT profession that might hinder me from advancing in my career. Not adhering to ethical standards in the workplace setting gets professionals in trouble with colleagues, employers, and the customers. Furthermore, being ethical fosters leadership opportunities and cooperation in an organization. Nonetheless, IT professionals seeking career advancements can face some issues that may hinder them to reach their goals, and they include trust, commitment, and ethical leadership (Bello, 2012). Ethical leadership is the demonstration of an appropriate code of ethics through interpersonal relationships and personal actions. IT specialist seeking career growth should be ethical leaders (moral managers) who can instill trust and commitment among the stakeholders. Similarly, in the line of job, IT specialists might come across employee data and crucial information in a company's system. The act utilitarianism theory mandates that in such a situation, it is ethical for the professional not to violate the privacy and share the employee information as it might undermine the trust and cooperation.
How Ethics Impact Relations with Stakeholders
Establishing internal ethical principles should be a mandate for IT professionals to foster the relations with co-workers, customers, vendors, and superiors. It is important to realize employee ethical behavior is crucial in achieving customer satisfaction (Thomas & Vitell, 2002). When professionals engage in conflicts of interest with co-workers, superiors, or customers, this unethical action has adverse consequences to the company and the person involved as well. It is important to foster positive relationships in the workplace through personal and business ethics. Furthermore, an individual success in a company rides on building confidence and trust with the partners. As an IT professional, practicing ethics in an employee, superiors, and customer dealings reflect a commitment to high standards of service and career commitment. According to Zeiger (2016), the business industry has been well known for its lack of ethics in light of company scandals and Ponzi schemes. Lack of ethics leads to many problems for professionals. For instance, IT professionals who regularly practice unethical behaviors such as hacking are likely to face criminal charges and legal actions from superiors, co-workers, or even clients. Additionally, IT professionals should guarantee confidentiality to employees and customers that their personal data cannot be accessed by unauthorized people as this may negatively affect the relationship within the organization. Significantly, lack of ethics in an organization also affects employee performance, and this might affect professionals to advance in their careers.
The purpose of this article is to discuss how ethics impacts the IT profession career. To achieve this, the paper has highlighted ethical theories that best guide behaviors of IT professionals and discussed some of the goals and situations that I might face while seeking career growth. Finally, the paper also discusses how ethics impacts the relationship between IT specialists and stakeholders within the company.
Bello, S. (2012). Impact of Ethical Leadership on Employee Job Performance. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 3(11), 228-234. Retrieved from http://ijbssnet.com/journals/Vol_3_No_11_June_2012/25.pdf
Berzai, L. (2012). How Ethical Theories Apply to IT Professionals - Association of Information Technology Professionals. Aitp.org. Retrieved 2 December 2016, from http://www.aitp.org/news/93013/how-ethical-theories-apply-to-it-professionals.ht...
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