By Jeff Zhu
Few years ago, as a computer consultant, I was contracted to a medium size electrical company. One day I was handed a copy of Microsoft Office 2000 and asked to install it on all the computers on the remote office around 50 computers in all. I asked one simple question. "Do we have a site license for this?"
The answer was simple too: "No."
As if the anxiety of starting a new contract job weren't enough, I was faced with a violation of copyright laws.
I put this task on the back burner until I had an opportunity to further discuss the matter. I went about tending to other items on my agenda until I attended a management team meeting, where I brought up my concerns regarding this issue. The controller of the company is a CPA and a corporate lawyer, and I thought that surely he would understand the legal risks involved and rectify the situation as quickly as possible.
I brought this to the table as professionally as I could, saying, "I have some concerns regarding the lack of site licenses." I was asked to explain the situation, which I did while being very cautious not to place blame or step on anyone's toes, because that I was a contractor in this company.
The members of the management team began to make jokes about the matter, claiming that we weren't going to get caught, and the head of engineering stated that he wasn't going to contribute to the "let's buy Bill Gates another yacht" fund.
When the laughter died down, there was a person from human resources said to me, "Jeff, no one in this room shares your ethical concerns."
I tried to digest this comment and could only muster up a delicate comeback. "That's very unfortunate."
Immediately, I began to think back to my references. Why in the world would a hiring manager inquire about a potential employee's business ethics and then make such a hypocritical comment? In my case, even though I was a contractor, I should act as its... [continues]
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