How ethical are we, really? Most of us decry the manifest immorality at WorldCom and Enron. But truth be told, we're prone ourselves to occasional ethical lapses in the workplace. Every three months, we'll survey readers at Fast Company's Web site on the little white lies of business. This first effort attracted 740 responses; of those, fewer than a quarter answered no to all questions.
|Do you instruct your assistant to tell callers that you're "in a meeting" when you really just don't want to be bothered?|
|Have you given a good performance review to a worker who maybe didn't deserve it?|
|When discussing job opportunities with potential new employers, have you ever fudged the size of your current or most recent salary?|
|Do you sometimes "embellish" your professional experience when circumstances call for it?|
|Have you told an employee "no" and blamed company policy or your boss when it was really your decision?|
Essay: Have you ever been caught in a lie? If so, what happened?
"I lied about being sick and was discovered at the golf course. Ouch!"
"Actually, I was once advised by my boss that I would not make a good manager because I find it difficult to lie."
"Years ago, my professional resume preparer convinced me to 'blend' work experience so no unemployment gaps appeared. I reluctantly agreed and got a job offer. They called and checked and caught me. It was humiliating and a lesson learned."
"Yes. When confronted, I fessed up. I was terminated."
The blotter: An album of ethical snapshots from around the nation
Gregg Leo Curwick allegedly lied to clients of his temporary-staffing firm and pocketed $76,000 paid for worker's compensation insurance premiums and employee income tax.
— Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, California)
Russell Ellicott is accused of submitting false billings and collecting government checks for foot care never provided to nursing- home patients.
— The Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle
A grand jury in Wayne County, N.Y., indicted William Nichiporuk for submitting a false claim to his employer for reimbursement of $1,900 in tuition fees for university classes he never took.
— Rochester (New York) Democrat and Chronicle
Rodney Dixon admitted to a U.S. judge that much of his business, Lacrad International, was a lie. Lacrad sold religious sermons and gospel music on CDs, and Dixon told lenders it had revenue in the millions to get, among other things, a $2.25 million loan to purchase a corporate jet. The FBI found that Dixon's company never exceeded $100,000 in revenue.
— The Chicago Tribune
A version of this article appeared in the May 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.