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.