Facebook: Unethical Behavior in the Workplace

Small Business - October 28, 2021
Employees in office talking to each other and standing with a box of belongings

Documents reveal internal dissent among employees over Facebook’s policies.

We have already learned many concerning facts from the leaked Facebook documents. Now, a new nugget of info is making headlines: Employees have expressed their outrage in not-so-subtle ways over how the platform has operated for the past several years.

The backlash is spotlighted especially following the incidents at the January 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. When Facebook leadership posted on the company’s internal message board for everyone to “hang in there,” employees replied with furious comments, blaming Facebook for what happened.

As an employee, what should you do in a situation like this? What’s the best course of action if you feel like leadership or a colleague is mishandling a situation? Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time anyone has ever witnessed and known about unethical behavior taking place in business. So, what can you do when caught in a situation you feel you need to report because you don’t agree with how it’s managed?

What should you do if you see unethical behavior at work?

Have you ever been in a sticky situation at work that forces you to take a good hard look at your moral compass? Ethics can be tough to face, especially when waters get murky and the question of right and wrong is unclear. Sometimes, though, you need to take action when you have a gut feeling that something isn’t right.

Experts give these tips on what to do when you see unethical behavior happening at work:

  1. Be aware of your tendency to rationalize. It’s easy to keep doing things because “everyone else is doing it” or perhaps “this is the way it’s always been done.” These thoughts might not be false, but they also might be ways to avoid coming forward and questioning the whole truth.
  2. Understand the ‘why.’ Consider the reasons why the perpetrator is doing something. For example, are they lying to customers to sell something? Are they giving clients half-truths or wrong information to make themselves look better? Are they skewing information or numbers to make the data seem impressive to their boss? When you understand the “why” behind people’s actions, you can navigate ethics.
  3. Talk to the perpetrator first. If you’ve weighed out the facts and decide you need to take action to change this, experts suggest talking to the perpetrator one-on-one first. Give the person the benefit of the doubt that they’ll change once their colleague (you) talks to them about it instead of immediately going to your boss or other leadership.
  4. Ask, don’t accuse. When discussing this with the perpetrator, avoid approaching it like you’re pointing fingers at them or giving out a lecture on morality – this could backfire on you. Ask questions like “Can you help me understand?” and remain calm.
  5. Practice before talking to them. Again, you don’t want to come at the offender too quickly and aggressively. Rehearse before you have the conversation with them and think about different scenarios that could happen to prepare yourself.
  6. Escalate if necessary. After talking to them and not seeing any improvement or changes, it could be time to bring this to someone higher up, like your boss. If the questionable behavior is coming from your boss or leadership at the company in general, it may be time to tell HR or leave the company.
  7. Have a plan to protect yourself. Standing up for yourself and holding your ground under others who are higher up than you can be scary – retaliation is real. If you get caught in this situation, experts suggest protecting yourself by documenting conversations, enlisting allies for support and seeking legal guidance.

Talk to your provider lawyer about how to handle legal matters at work.

When something isn’t right at work, it can be challenging to understand how to handle the situation. It becomes even more difficult down the line if you don’t have legal help and consultation. A provider lawyer can present you with options and help you navigate what to do to protect yourself when reporting something illegal or unethical.

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