Honesty: Best Policy or Quickest Way to Get Screwed Over?

Monday, April 3rd, 2006 • 7 Comments on Honesty: Best Policy or Quickest Way to Get Screwed Over?

I have a friend.  This friend applied for a job while waiting for another job to come through.  Job A will pay more, but Job B is the one my friend really wants.  Job B might not happen, so Job A is looking pretty good.  Problem is, my friend doesn’t know what to do about Job B should Job A work out.  My friend told Job B about the dilemma and they’re doing what they can to push the job through.  My friend also told Job A about the situation, letting them know that Job B is still a possibility.  My friend felt an ethical responsibility to tell Job A about Job B because there is a security clearance check necessary for Job A, which will cost the company money.  My friend didn’t feel like it would be right to let them spend the money on the background check and then walk out on them in a few weeks if/when Job B comes through.

My friend also told a job-hunting co-worker about Job A, including the salary asked for/received.  My friend’s co-worker promptly applied for a job with the same company, asking for more money than my friend (despite less practical job experience).  The job has been offered to the co-worker as well, though the salary hasn’t yet been revealed.

I’ve deliberately avoided mentioning the gender of my friend, though I think we all know my friend is a woman and her co-worker is a man.  Why do we know this?  Are women more inclined to be honest?  Are women more ethical?  Are women more concerned about others?  Do men think they are worth more than a woman in the same job?

Yes, yes, yes and yes, I would say.  But maybe I’m cynical.

Personally, I don’t think my friend owes full disclosure to either job, but certainly not Job A.  The cost of doing a security clearance background check is simply the cost of doing business and I don’t think her honesty will garner her anything except her own peace of mind.  Perhaps that’s enough.  Job B is a little more tricky, as it involves working for people she already knows.  Still, they haven’t gotten their act together and she’s still waiting for them to work out the details.  I wonder if telling Job A about Job B will label her as honest and forthright or flighty and an employment risk?  I have my own thoughts on the subject, but I don’t think any man in the same position would have told Job A anything at all and would have walked out with a clear conscience if Job B came through.  Am I gender stereotyping?

I also don’t think my friend should have disclosed her salary to her co-worker, who in his cockiness assumes he deserves to make more money than she does.  What if he gets it?  How will my friend feel about Job A (whom she believes deserves her honesty) if her co-worker is working beside her, making more money?  One wonders if, had their positions been reversed, the co-worker would have told my friend about the job and the salary he was receiving.  Odds are he wouldn’t, but if he had I am almost certain my friend (like most women) would not have presumed to ask for a higher salary.

Am I off-base?  I would love some opinions on this.  I’m not a man-hater by any stretch of the imagination, but I think women and men have different attitudes toward careers and employers and are therefore treated differently, with women being penalized by both their employers as well as their co-workers.


Posted by Kristina in Musings
  • Kara says:

    I think women are more apt to play fair in the work place than men.  I’ve worked in two HR depts. and women are almost always more honest about factors in their employment (impending moves, pregnancy, divorce, etc.—we even had one woman tell us she was manic-depressive and on medication that periodically caused her to miss several days of work!).  Unfortunately, while I’d be more inclined to hire someone who was honest, it comes down to who is going to be best for the company.  While a man might have issues that will affect his employment, if he doesn’t tell, we have to assume there aren’t any, which puts the woman at a disadvantage.  In an ideal world, both would be honest.  In the real world, the man is going to get the job over the woman.

  • Carter says:

    Reality is cynical as hell, sometimes.

    I don’t think your friend owes either potential employer an explanation.  The fact that she has applied for a job means she is looking.  Ergo, something better may come along.  She is not obligated to take a position just because it’s offered.  If she’s going to take Job B come Hell or high water if it’s offered 6 months from now, then that’s different, and she has to let Job A know about that up front.  Otherwise, they have to assume they’re bidding for her services against unknown others.

    As far as the man being a jerk, what can I saw?  Men are all pigs.  I should know.  Oink, oink.  The cynical reality is that men get paid more for the same job than women in the vast majority of businesses.  Why?  Because most of the time, it’s men making those decisions.  Oink, oink.

    Gender equality in the workplace is still an ideal, not a reality.

  • Anonymous says:

    Generally speaking, women are more honest and ethical than men. Generally speaking. Unfortunately, whether anyone cares to admit it or not, honesty and ethics don’t work well in the distorted world of business. And yes, generally speaking, women are more concerned about others, unless of course, that other person is another woman. Why? Because a woman is generally a woman’s worst enemy in business. Beyond the charade, they are not supportive. Argue all you want about that one, it’s a reality. Generally speaking. And yes, men think they’re worth more than women for no other reason except the fact that they’re a man and feel entitled……..to what? I’m not sure. The other reasons men will continue to make more are all the reasons you mentioned in your post. Your friend should have gone about her job search quietly, accepted the presecreen as a cost of doing business, as you suggested, not spilled her guts to a co-worker and taken the best opportunity when and if it surfaced. Until that type of behavior and approach changes, men will continue to make more than women, simply because they are more careful about what they say and who they say it to. Like everything else in life, it’s not always about talent. Sometimes, less is more. Generally speaking, of course.

  • Michelle says:

    I don’t know that women are more honest than men, but I think they’re more likely to consider their actions in relation to other people.  Men will act independently, without remorse.  Women look at the picture picture and the effect on the “team.”  Women probably suffer for it in the business world, but I don’t think it’s a bad way to be in life.

  • Russ says:

    Maybe the guy just thought he could “push” on through to a higher salary. It might not have had anything to do with what he felt he was “worth” in comparison to what the female was worth. Maybe he is just a “go getter” – a get things done type of person.


    Maybe he did think he could play the “guys are better” card. I don’t know.

    In my opinion, generalizing hurts more than helps, but it’s not necessarily wrong to generalize. Generally speaking, men are hired more than women when both are equally qualified. BUT there are exceptions to that rule. Hopefully, in these situations the candidates are looked at with regards to what is best for the company doing the hiring, and NOT what reproductive organs the candidates were born with.

    Just my two cents.

  • Josh says:

    While not all men fit this picture, I do have to agree that most women are more apt to play fair. Don’t get me wrong, some women can fight nasty too, but in the whole of the gender they do seem to be more honest. Sorry guys!

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