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Ethics course - I don't see you mentioned anywhere in job requirements

Tony Jaa
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 10, 2013
Posts: 19
I am attending part time college in which I must take a mandatory ethics course. Its boring as $%#@ and costs a lot too. Yes, it can serve as a guide in situations where one has to make ethical judgments.
But, what is the use of all that? Don't companies have lawyers for handling the "ethics" situations? Then, why do I, as an IT guy need to delve into ethics?

Its nice to know, but nobody cares about ethics courses. They may care about "ethical standards and behavior", but not about courses. Name AT LEAST 10 job advertisements that require the applicant to have
taken an ethics course(s), especially in the IT field. I see C#, ASP.net, JS, Ruby, Java, SQL a lot in job requirements, but no ethics.

Doesn't that speak tons about the true value of ethics courses in the industry? What is more important to you as an employer - guys who can do the job or guys who may not be as good, but got top grade in ethics course?
No amount of ethics courses can change human nature. There are people who take course on ethics in their programs at big colleges and still commit multi-million dollar frauds.

Ulf Dittmer
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Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41173
    
  45
Adhering to ethics doesn't need to be mentioned in job requirements because it's an implicit requirement for any job out there under the sun. Come to think of it, it's an inherent requirement for being a decent human being. It's particularly relevant for IT professionals because they tend to have access to lots of sensitive data. An ethics course may not get you a better job, but it may well make you a better professional. Being fallible human beings we can all use a reminder of this every now and then.


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Tony Jaa
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 10, 2013
Posts: 19
Ulf Dittmer wrote:Adhering to ethics doesn't need to be mentioned in job requirements because it's an implicit requirement for any job out there under the sun. Come to think of it, it's an inherent requirement for being a decent human being. It's particularly relevant for IT professionals because they tend to have access to lots of sensitive data. An ethics course may not get you a better job, but it may well make you a better professional. Being fallible human beings we can all use a reminder of this every now and then.


But the grim reality is that it costs money and adds no tangible value to my resume. I would not care if it was free of cost
Ulf Dittmer
Marshal

Joined: Mar 22, 2005
Posts: 41173
    
  45
An education isn't just about getting you a better resume, its primarily about making you a better person.
Tony Jaa
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 10, 2013
Posts: 19
Ulf Dittmer wrote:An education isn't just about getting you a better resume, its primarily about making you a better person.


Its good to be a "better person". But there are so many better, rational and "ethical" thinkers out there who have not taken any ethics courses.
One does not need ethics courses to be a better person. My boss is an excellent example, at least in the eyes of many employees in my company.
I asked him and he told me that he never really took that course seriously and just managed to pass. But his tech and mba grades were "good".
Thats what got him the job in the company. His ethical behavior (among other things) ensured that he got to keep his job.


Bill Clar
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 21, 2006
Posts: 150

Most college programs also require a selection of liberal arts electives. Are they a waste of time and money as well?

Bear Bibeault
Author and ninkuma
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Joined: Jan 10, 2002
Posts: 60810
    
  65

I weep for a world where ethics are "somebody else's job".


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Paul Clapham
Bartender

Joined: Oct 14, 2005
Posts: 18541
    
    8

Tony Jaa wrote:But there are so many better, rational and "ethical" thinkers out there who have not taken any ethics courses.


Okay. And there are plenty of good programmers who didn't take any programming courses, and plenty of good historians who didn't take any history courses, and so on. But don't assume you will be one of those who are good at something without taking the course. Chances are you won't.
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11170
    
  16

Why "must" you take an ethics class? I assume you are in some program where you are getting a degree or certificate of some kind, and the school requires it. My guess is that it is required for many, many programs, not just the one you are in.

Further, my company has more lawyers than I can count. In 6.5 years here, I have never, ever seen one or even talked to one. I make many ethical decisions every day that have serious implications long-term that the lawyers never see. If I had to consult them for each and every one, my productivity would drop to about ZERO.


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Paul Anilprem
Enthuware Software Support
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 23, 2000
Posts: 3255
    
    2
Standards of ethical behavior vary across countries, places, and cultures. I think it is a very good idea to learn and adopt ethical standards of the place where you are living and/or working. Sometimes an otherwise ethical person may unknowingly engage in an act that is considered unethical in the place he is in. And it doesn't take much for an unethical act to cross over to the unlawful acts territory.

I remember a long time back I was interviewing a person and he turned out to be from my town. At the end of the the interview, we were just chatting and I casually asked whether he was married and my manager later told me that that was not an appropriate question.

So again, my humble suggestion is to learn whatever you can from this course. Don't argue with it. It is a good thing.

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Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 38075
    
  22
It is entirely ethical to ask whether somebody is married. In many places, however, that would be misconstrued as an attempt to discriminate on grounds of marital status, which is however unethical and, in Europe at least, unlawful. So you can only ask that question outwith any recruitment context.
Jeanne Boyarsky
internet detective
Marshal

Joined: May 26, 2003
Posts: 30138
    
150

Some companies offer their own ethics training. Just because it isn't in the job requirements, doesn't mean it isn't valued.


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Tony Jaa
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 10, 2013
Posts: 19
Bear Bibeault wrote:I weep for a world where ethics are "somebody else's job".

Save those tears for another thing. There are lawyers to help you with all that.
Tony Jaa
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 10, 2013
Posts: 19
fred rosenberger wrote:Why "must" you take an ethics class? I assume you are in some program where you are getting a degree or certificate of some kind, and the school requires it. My guess is that it is required for many, many programs, not just the one you are in.

Further, my company has more lawyers than I can count. In 6.5 years here, I have never, ever seen one or even talked to one. I make many ethical decisions every day that have serious implications long-term that the lawyers never see. If I had to consult them for each and every one, my productivity would drop to about ZERO.



Can you give me an example of a hard ethical situation where you would not have been able to come to a good judgment if you had not taken an ethics course?
Tony Jaa
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 10, 2013
Posts: 19
Jeanne Boyarsky wrote:Some companies offer their own ethics training. Just because it isn't in the job requirements, doesn't mean it isn't valued.


That, I would be willing to take. It is highly probable that it will be customized according to my needs as a developer.

Tony Jaa
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 10, 2013
Posts: 19
Paul Anilprem wrote:Standards of ethical behavior vary across countries, places, and cultures. I think it is a very good idea to learn and adopt ethical standards of the place where you are living and/or working. Sometimes an otherwise ethical person may unknowingly engage in an act that is considered unethical in the place he is in. And it doesn't take much for an unethical act to cross over to the unlawful acts territory.

I remember a long time back I was interviewing a person and he turned out to be from my town. At the end of the the interview, we were just chatting and I casually asked whether he was married and my manager later told me that that was not an appropriate question.

So again, my humble suggestion is to learn whatever you can from this course. Don't argue with it. It is a good thing.


Not really a serious ethics situation. Just a social customs question.
Paul Anilprem
Enthuware Software Support
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 23, 2000
Posts: 3255
    
    2
Tony Jaa wrote:
Paul Anilprem wrote:Standards of ethical behavior vary across countries, places, and cultures. I think it is a very good idea to learn and adopt ethical standards of the place where you are living and/or working. Sometimes an otherwise ethical person may unknowingly engage in an act that is considered unethical in the place he is in. And it doesn't take much for an unethical act to cross over to the unlawful acts territory.

I remember a long time back I was interviewing a person and he turned out to be from my town. At the end of the the interview, we were just chatting and I casually asked whether he was married and my manager later told me that that was not an appropriate question.

So again, my humble suggestion is to learn whatever you can from this course. Don't argue with it. It is a good thing.


Not really a serious ethics situation. Just a social customs question.

That right there proves that this training is important. I know for certain that in several companies new managers are explicitly told to NOT to ask marital status and age in interviews. It is always the borderline cases that require training. But you seem to have made up your mind, so wish you all the best
Luke Kolin
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 04, 2002
Posts: 336
Paul Anilprem wrote:That right there proves that this training is important. I know for certain that in several companies new managers are explicitly told to NOT to ask marital status and age in interviews. It is always the borderline cases that require training. But you seem to have made up your mind, so wish you all the best


I don't follow - I think you are confusing what is ethical and what is legal. The two are very different, and lawyers are a good example of that.

The reason why I am not permitted to ask marital status and age in interviews is that it is illegal for me to base a hiring decision on these criteria. The lawyers advise me that if I do not know the answers to those questions, then a failed candidate cannot sue my employer if they do not get hired. It is an interesting question - it's entirely legal to claim age discrimination in a lawsuit if you are not hired, but in the absence of knowledge (since you are unlikely to know the qualifications of the other candidates) is it ethical?

I would also suggest that ethics do NOT vary from place to place. Laws do, and cultural mores do, but I believe that ethics and values are rather universal. I think it's unethical to hire a relative over a more qualified external candidate, but it's legal in most jurisdictions I've been in. There are also a lot of unethical acts that are illegal where I am; if I worked in a jurisdiction where it was legal to steal from my employer, would that make it ethical? I don't think so.

Finally, I have little sympathy for the notion that in order to understand or do X, you need a degree, course or training in X.

Cheers!

Luke
Paul Anilprem
Enthuware Software Support
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 23, 2000
Posts: 3255
    
    2
Luke Kolin wrote:
Paul Anilprem wrote:That right there proves that this training is important. I know for certain that in several companies new managers are explicitly told to NOT to ask marital status and age in interviews. It is always the borderline cases that require training. But you seem to have made up your mind, so wish you all the best


I don't follow - I think you are confusing what is ethical and what is legal. The two are very different, and lawyers are a good example of that.

The reason why I am not permitted to ask marital status and age in interviews is that it is illegal for me to base a hiring decision on these criteria. The lawyers advise me that if I do not know the answers to those questions, then a failed candidate cannot sue my employer if they do not get hired. It is an interesting question - it's entirely legal to claim age discrimination in a lawsuit if you are not hired, but in the absence of knowledge (since you are unlikely to know the qualifications of the other candidates) is it ethical?

I would also suggest that ethics do NOT vary from place to place. Laws do, and cultural mores do, but I believe that ethics and values are rather universal. I think it's unethical to hire a relative over a more qualified external candidate, but it's legal in most jurisdictions I've been in. There are also a lot of unethical acts that are illegal where I am; if I worked in a jurisdiction where it was legal to steal from my employer, would that make it ethical? I don't think so.

Finally, I have little sympathy for the notion that in order to understand or do X, you need a degree, course or training in X.

Cheers!

Luke

1. My point is, which I have stated earlier as well, is that it does not take much to cross over from being ethical to unlawful.
2. I don't agree that ethics are universal. I agree that a lot of things are common across all cultures and places but there can be differences.
3. You don't *need* a degree to learn anything. I think that is well settled. However, that doesn't reduce the value of a degree. A degree program is one of many ways to learn something. A training is a great way to learn from someone who is already learned. Only the naive ignore the value of a good teacher and a good training
Luke Kolin
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 04, 2002
Posts: 336
Paul Anilprem wrote:1. My point is, which I have stated earlier as well, is that it does not take much to cross over from being ethical to unlawful.


And my point is that ethical and legal are two separate axes. There are things which can be legal but unethical, ethical but illegal, as well as both legal/ethical and illegal/unethical. Treating the two as the same (or different points along the same axes) is simply incorrect.

2. I don't agree that ethics are universal. I agree that a lot of things are common across all cultures and places but there can be differences.


That's an interesting observation, which leads us down to the road to some interesting possibilities. Does this mean that certain unethical acts become ethical depending on where they occur, or who they are done to?

3. You don't *need* a degree to learn anything. I think that is well settled. However, that doesn't reduce the value of a degree. A degree program is one of many ways to learn something. A training is a great way to learn from someone who is already learned. Only the naive ignore the value of a good teacher and a good training


I don't think anyone questions that a degree, or a course, or training has some value. However, the value needs to be placed beside the cost of such learning, be it the monetary cost or the opportunity cost to determine its true worth. It's also worth pointing out that plenty of people learn in different fashions - some are more autodidactic, others benefit more from practical rather than theoretical education. And if a degree or course is but one of many ways to the same result, it makes Tony's question rather germane.

Cheers!

Luke
Paul Anilprem
Enthuware Software Support
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 23, 2000
Posts: 3255
    
    2
Luke Kolin wrote:
Paul Anilprem wrote:1. My point is, which I have stated earlier as well, is that it does not take much to cross over from being ethical to unlawful.


And my point is that ethical and legal are two separate axes. There are things which can be legal but unethical, ethical but illegal, as well as both legal/ethical and illegal/unethical. Treating the two as the same (or different points along the same axes) is simply incorrect.

2. I don't agree that ethics are universal. I agree that a lot of things are common across all cultures and places but there can be differences.


That's an interesting observation, which leads us down to the road to some interesting possibilities. Does this mean that certain unethical acts become ethical depending on where they occur, or who they are done to?

3. You don't *need* a degree to learn anything. I think that is well settled. However, that doesn't reduce the value of a degree. A degree program is one of many ways to learn something. A training is a great way to learn from someone who is already learned. Only the naive ignore the value of a good teacher and a good training


I don't think anyone questions that a degree, or a course, or training has some value. However, the value needs to be placed beside the cost of such learning, be it the monetary cost or the opportunity cost to determine its true worth. It's also worth pointing out that plenty of people learn in different fashions - some are more autodidactic, others benefit more from practical rather than theoretical education. And if a degree or course is but one of many ways to the same result, it makes Tony's question rather germane.

Cheers!

Luke

1. You are missing the point. Yes, ethics and legality are two different things but unethical behavior often leads to unlawful acts. That is why it is a good idea to not ignore such training/course. I know of several companies that make their employees go through mandatory Ethics training every year. The course/training is called Workplace "Ethics" and not Workplace "Legality" or something. There is a reason for that.

2. Yes, I believe so.

3. Of course. You are stating the obvious. OP thinks the Ethics course in his degree program is a waste. I think it is good to go through the course. But I am not sure what is your point.
 
 
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