When Something Is Above Your Pay Grade
Dear Margo: I have an ethical dilemma. I work in an industry where many people telecommute, which lends itself to subcontracting work to offshore vendors (e.g., India). Sending work offshore is a very controversial and polarizing issue in the industry. Although there’s a significant cost savings, it’s not unusual for our clients to insist on contracts that prohibit offshoring. My company utilizes offshore labor but keeps it very low profile. I don’t have particular issues with it and actually enjoy getting to know some of my counterparts in other countries. The company, however, calls itself “American based” (true of the corporate headquarters), and while we do not send work offshore when contracts prohibit it, I’ve realized lately that we do come just short of being untruthful about our use of the practice. For example, while interviewing a job candidate, I asked my routine question, “Why are you considering working for us?” and the response was, “I want to work for a company that does not send work overseas, and the recruiter assured me your company does not.”
I am fairly low in the corporate hierarchy and have no input on these decisions. There’s no question that it would cost me my job if I were to tell clients or candidates that we do, in fact, send work offshore. Losing my job would be a financial disaster, and I’m at an age where finding new, equivalent employment would be next to impossible. However, I am increasingly uncomfortable about being party to this lie of omission. Do you think there’s any hope of keeping both my job and a clear conscience? –Increasingly Uncomfortable
Dear Inc: I am sympathetic, but for my own reasons. When speaking to people in other countries, although they speak English, it is not, shall we say, always English-English, and it’s often difficult to understand. I agree that you should not tell a candidate the information that your company apparently wishes to keep quiet. I would, however, go to a superior and say that, in addition to feeling as though you are not being truthful with potential employees, you have realized that because your America-only policy is considered a plus, it would be ruinous if word got out that this was untrue — especially because so many people tell you it is one reason they do business with your company. Whether or not you can make yourself heard, you will have made the effort, which should salve your conscience. You will have tried. –Margo, conscientiously
Two Friends, Same Shrink
Dear Margo: I have a weird issue. I have a great girlfriend, but she’s had emotional problems in the past, for which she is getting therapy. While I’m not the cause of these past issues, I am sure she talks about me to her therapist. That’s not the problem. My cousin, who’s my best friend, has also started seeing a therapist. Recently, while giving one of them a ride to the doctor, I discovered that they are seeing the same therapist, and this has me very nervous.
Obviously, I’ve said things in confidence to each of them about the other, and I’m worried they might find out by the therapist’s putting two and two together. Should I go see their shrink and discuss my concerns, or am I overreacting? I can’t tell this to anyone else because I don’t want to reveal that my best friend and my girlfriend are seeing a therapist. –Anxious
Dear Anx: You can relax. Therapists are bound by rules of confidentiality not to say anything to anyone. In addition, they are trained to be objective. Shrinks often, unavoidably, see patients who know each other and encounter acquaintances of patients, especially if they practice in small communities or for an organization with a limited cohort (like the Navy or a university). As for your thought of going to the therapist about your concerns, bag that idea. I doubt s/he would even have that discussion. And P.S. from an old analysand: These days, seeing a therapist has no stigma whatsoever and may even be borderline chic. –Margo, calmingly
Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.
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