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Ethics for Engineers

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A presentation given during the 39th Annual NCPA Concrete Paving Workshop. By Randall D. Peters, P.E., Consultant, LLC

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Ethics for Engineers

  1. 1. ETHICS FOR ENGINEERS WORKSHOP Presented by Randall D. Peters, PE Consultant, LLC January 17, 2018
  2. 2. PRESENTER BIOGRAPHY Randall D Peters, PE, M.ASCE, M.NSPE Associate Professor of Practice UNL Department of Civil Engineering
  3. 3. WHAT DOES ETHICS MEAN TO YOU? • Ethics has to do with what my feelings tell me is right or wrong. • Ethics has to do with my religious beliefs. • Being ethical is doing what the law requires. • Ethics consists of the standards of behavior our society accepts. • I don’t know what the word means.
  4. 4. ETHICS FOR ENGINEERS 38TH ANNUAL NCPA WORKSHOP Presented by Randall D. Peters, PE Consultant, LLC January 17, 2017
  5. 5. ETHICS FOR ENGINEERS 38TH ANNUAL NCPA WORKSHOP Presented by Randall D. Peters, PE Consultant, LLC January 17, 2017
  6. 6. LEARNING OBJECTIVES • Understand the meaning of “Professional Ethics” • Identify Codes of Ethics relevant to Engineering Practice • Apply understanding to practical case studies • Know where to find ethics resources
  7. 7. ETHICS: DEFINITIONS • Standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans ought to do. • Doing was is right, honorable, legal, and honest. • Accepted norms of right and wrong. • A system of moral principles based upon common values. • The rules and standards governing the conduct of members of a profession.
  8. 8. PERSONAL ETHICS Different grounds Much agreement
  9. 9. COMMON MORALITY Different grounds Much agreement
  10. 10. THE ENGINEERING PROFESSION Engineering practice can be defined as a “profession” as opposed to a job. EA_Handbook.pdf
  11. 11. ATTRIBUTES OF A PROFESSION • Work requires special skills, judgement, and exercise of discretion. • Membership in the profession requires formal education. • Special societies (controlled by members of the profession) establish standard for admission into the profession and conduct of its members. • Significant public trust relationship with the larger public.
  12. 12. CODES OF ETHICS • Nebraska Board of Engineers & Architects Code of Practice • ABET Code of Ethics • NSPE Code of Ethics • ASCE Code of Ethics • Corporate Code of Ethics
  13. 13. NEBRASKA BOARD OF ENGINEERS & ARCHITECTS CODE OF PRACTICE • 5.1 Competence • 5.2 Conflict of Interest • 5.3 Disclosure of Professional Relationships or Responsibility • 5.4 Compliance with Laws • 5.5 Professional Conduct • 5.6 Use of Regulated Titles • EA_Handbook.pdf Code of Practice
  14. 14. AMERICAN SOCIETY OF CIVIL ENGINEERS • Code of Ethics • http://www.asce.org/code-of-ethics/ • ..ASCE Ethics Guidelines.pdf
  15. 15. NATIONAL SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL ENGINEERS – CODE OF ETHICS • https://www.nspe.org/resources/ethics/code-ethics
  16. 16. Ethical Decision Making
  17. 17. ETHICS QUICK TEST • Is the action legal? • Does it comply with your understanding of our values? • If you do it, will you feel bad? • How will it look in the newspaper? • If you know it is wrong, do not do it. • If you are not sure, ask. • Keep asking until you get an answer.
  18. 18. ETHICS QUICK TEST -- ASCE Use the ASCE PLUS Rule: • P = Policies • Does the action Serve the best interest of the Public and the client. Is it consistent with standard ethical practices. • L = Legal • Is the action compliant with he spirit and the letter of the law. • U = Universal • Does it confirm with universal principles and values. • S = Self • Does it satisfy your own personal definition of right, good, and just.
  19. 19. KEY TERMS Definitions • Confidential or Proprietary Information • Conflict of Interest • Family Members • Harassment • Kickbacks • Outside Employment
  20. 20. ETHICAL STANDARDS: WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Some hypothetical situations: cases of group and individual behavior and responses. • Pick one (or more) answers or responses!
  21. 21. SUSPECTED DISHONESTY OF CO-WORKERS TOWARD THE COMPANY Two of your subordinates routinely provide their children with school supplies from the office. How do you handle this situation? • Lock up the supplies and issue only as needed and signed for. • Tell these two subordinates that supplies are only for office use. • Report the theft of supplies to the head of security. • Send a reminder note to all employees that office supplies are for office use only and that disregard of this rule will result in disciplinary action.
  22. 22. SUSPECTED DISHONESTY OF CO-WORKERS TOWARD THE COMPANY A co-worker signed up for a training course. You know he did not attend the course but was not at work either. How do you handle the situation? • It is not your business, so you stay out of it. • Speak to your supervisor about the co-worker's absence. • Send an anonymous letter to the company's ethics office. • Speak to your colleague about this discrepancy and see what his explanation is.
  23. 23. WHAT CAN OR SHOULD A SUPERVISOR DO, OR REQUIRE OF OTHERS? Since project funds are short, you have been directed by your supervisor to charge your time to a government contract you know to be improper. What do you do? • Explain to your supervisor that mischarging on a government contract is fraud. • Refuse to mischarge. • Do (mischarge) as directed by your supervisor. • Ask finance for an overhead number to charge your time to.
  24. 24. WHAT CAN OR SHOULD A SUPERVISOR DO, OR REQUIRE OF OTHERS? You are on a proposal-writing team. In the orientation briefing the head of the team gives the following guidance: “We really have to win this one. I want you to be really optimistic in what you write.” How do you interpret her advice? • "I heard what she said - win this one!" • "Guarded optimism is not illegal, so I have no problem." • "Was she telling me to misrepresent the facts under the guise of optimism?" • "I'm a super conservative person. I don't slant my numbers, no matter how much we need to win."
  25. 25. WHAT CAN OR SHOULD A SUPERVISOR DO, OR REQUIRE OF OTHERS? Your supervisor hints that if you don't contribute at least a minimum amount to the current Savings Bonds campaign, your earned promotion might not happen. What do you do? • You comply with your supervisor's wishes. • You refuse to join the Savings Bonds campaign. • You contact your ethics or human resources representative. • You tell your coworkers about the threat your supervisor made.
  26. 26. INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY While working for your company, you invent a device that has a potential for making you wealthy. You used the company's lab and test facilities but you did the work on your own time. What do you do with your invention? • Take it to the legal department for determination of ownership rights and appropriate disposition. • See a local attorney and have him file for a patent in your name. • Submit your invention for consideration for award in your company's "ideas count" program. • Contact those companies who would have interest in your invention and sell it to the highest bidder.
  27. 27. QUESTIONS OF BRIBES OR CONFLICT OF INTEREST Planning on adding a porch onto your house, you visit a lumberyard to get prices. During the discussion, the sales manager says, "Oh, you work for XYZ Company. They buy a lot from us, so I'm going to give you a special discount." What do you do? • Like finding a $20 bill on the street. Take the discount, of course. • Explain to the sales manager, "I'm in production control, not purchasing at XYZ." • Ask for clarification, "Is that special discount available to all XYZ employees?" • If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Thank the salesman, but walk out.
  28. 28. QUESTIONS OF BRIBES OR CONFLICT OF INTEREST The company sends an employee to a conference. Attendees participate in a drawing for several door prizes. The employee wins two round-trip airline tickets to any destination in the U.S. What should the employee do with the tickets? • Since the employee was traveling on company business, she should turn the tickets in to the travel office so that the company can use them for business travel. • Since the conference was attended by a number of companies with all attendees having an equal chance to win, use the tickets to take her spouse to Hawaii on vacation. • She should try to get the airline to write the ticket in her brother-in-law's name so that they can't be traced back to her.
  29. 29. QUESTIONS OF BRIBES OR CONFLICT OF INTEREST The company sends an employee to a conference. Attendees participate in a drawing for several door prizes. The employee wins two round-trip airline tickets to any destination in the U.S. What should the employee do with the tickets? • Since the employee was traveling on company business, she should turn the tickets in to the travel office so that the company can use them for business travel. • Since the conference was attended by a number of companies with all attendees having an equal chance to win, use the tickets to take her spouse to Hawaii on vacation. • She should try to get the airline to write the ticket in her brother-in-law's name so that they can't be traced back to her.
  30. 30. QUESTIONS OF BRIBES OR CONFLICT OF INTEREST A friend of yours wants to transfer to your division but he may not be the best qualified for the job. You do have an opening and one other person, whom you do not know, has applied. What do you do? • Select the friend you know and in whom you have confidence. • Select the other person who you are told is qualified. • Request a qualifications comparison of the two from human resources. • Request human resources to extend the search for additional candidates before making the selection.
  31. 31. QUESTIONS OF BRIBES OR CONFLICT OF INTEREST A project has not yet been formally approved nor have the funds been allocated. Nonetheless, because it all looks good and you need to get started in order to meet schedule, you start negotiating with a supplier. What do you tell the supplier? • "This is a 'hot' program for both of us. Approval is imminent. Let's get all the preliminary work underway." • "The program is a 'go'. I want you under contract as soon as possible." • "Start work and we will cover your costs when we get the contract." • "If you want to be part of the team on this important project, you, like us, will have to shoulder some of the start-up costs."
  32. 32. COMPLAINTS AND WHISTLE-BLOWING In a department meeting, your supervisor takes credit for some excellent work of a colleague who is absent. What do you do? • Put the word out to your fellow workers as to who really did the work • Seek a private meeting with the supervisor in order to make sure your colleague gets credit, at least in the supervisor's head. • During a meeting with "the big boss" inadvertently let it slip that your colleague did not get the credit he deserved on a recent project. • Inform your colleague as to what took place and let him take whatever action he desires.
  33. 33. COMPLAINTS AND WHISTLE-BLOWING You are working on a government Defense contract and are convinced that a serious mischarging incident has occurred. You also believe that it was deliberate since the program was running out of funds. • Call the Department of Defense hotline. • Inform the local newspapers of your suspicions. • Discuss it with your local audit office. • Send an anonymous note to your corporate ethics office.
  34. 34. WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS & SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES A female employee tells you, her manager, that a fellow employee is HIV positive. What do you do? • Avoid any contact, other than absolutely necessary, with the AIDS- infected employee. • Transfer the AIDS-infected employee to a job where he has little contact with the other employees. • At your next staff meeting remind your staff that federal law prohibits discrimination against those infected with AIDS. • Have a meeting with her to discuss her perception of the situation.
  35. 35. WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS & SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES During his annual review, a salaried employee states that he is disappointed in your rating of him, particularly in light of the fact that during the year he was never told that he was not doing excellently. How do you reply? • "The company policy says that a rating of 'acceptable' is a good rating." • "I rated you as I saw it." • "Let's go over all the details of the rating and see if I can't make it more understandable to you." • "You understand only a specified and small percentage can be graded 'outstanding' and 'excellent'."
  36. 36. WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS & SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES When a male supervisor talks to any female employee, he always addresses her as "Sweetie." You have overheard him use this term several times. As the supervisor's manager, should you do anything? • No, since no one has complained. • Yes, talk to the supervisor and explain that, while he may have no intention of harassment, his use of "Sweetie" may be read as sexual harassment. • Yes. Order the supervisor to call an all-hands meeting and apologize for the unintended slights. • No, because there is nothing wrong with calling a female employee "Sweetie" or other endearment.
  37. 37. WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS & SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES You are responsible for the design of a project. A subcontractor has completed the design drawings, but you feel that there are some shortcomings in the drawings. You are being pressured to sign the drawings because failure to meet the budget milestone will jeopardize the entire project. Your supervisor has assured you that the corrections can be made during project construction. What should you do? • You want to be known as a team player and want to please your manager and customer, so you reluctantly sign the drawings. • You refuse to sign the drawings, even though you realize that the project may be terminated. • You sign the drawings but document your concerns in an attachment to the drawing.
  38. 38. WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS & SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES On the bus going home at night, the woman sitting next to you mentions that she is being sexually harassed by one of her fellow employees. Although she does not work for you, you both work for the same company. You are a manager in the company. What do you do? • Listen politely but since she doesn't work for you, stay out of it. • Suggest that she speak to her supervisor about it. • Suggest that she speak to either your company equal opportunity office or ethics. • You contact your company equal opportunity office or ethics.
  39. 39. WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS & SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES You are aware that a fellow employee uses drugs on the job. Another friend encourages you to confront the person instead of informing the supervisor. What do you do? • You speak to the alleged user and encourage him to get help. • You elect to tell your supervisor that you suspect an employee is using drugs on the job. • You confront the alleged user and tell him either to quit using drugs or you will "turn him in.” • Report the matter to employee assistance.
  40. 40. WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS & SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES For several months now, one of your colleagues has been slacking off, and you are getting stuck doing the work. You think it is unfair. What do you do? • Recognize this as an opportunity for you to demonstrate how capable you are. • Go to your supervisor and complain about this unfair workload. • Discuss the problem with your colleague in an attempt to solve the problem without involving others. • Discuss the problem with the human resources department.
  41. 41. WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS & SUPERVISOR RESPONSIBILITIES A coworker is injured on the job. You are a witness and could testify that the company was at fault. What do you do? • Don't get involved. • Contact the injured coworker and offer to appear in her behalf. • Report to the company what you saw to ensure that the safety hazard is corrected. • Protect the company by refusing to appear as a witness for the injured.
  42. 42. FAMILY AND LIFE OUTSIDE OF WORK Management of the XYZ Company is always impressed by employees who go in and work on Saturdays. This weekend you have a problem: If you work Saturday and Sunday, you can complete a project two days early. Or, you could take your family to a ball game. Which do you do? • Work, knowing the family will understand. • Work, letting the spouse take the kids to the ball game. • Work one day, go to the ball game on the other day. • Take the family to the ball game.
  43. 43. FAMILY AND LIFE OUTSIDE OF WORK At a management offsite meeting, you and your boss are in the same golf foursome, but on opposite sides. The boss never likes to lose. How is your game that day? • Smile and say to yourself: "I'm better than my boss, so I'm going to win." • I will play cautiously, one hole at a time. • Beating the boss is no big deal, so I don't mind losing. • She plays her game, I play my game. Low score wins.
  44. 44. ETHICAL LEADERSHIP--HOW DO YOU MEASURE UP? • Always maintain the highest standards of personal and professional ethics. • Consistent standards of conduct when dealing with personal and business- related opportunities or pressures. • Provide leadership by personal example.
  45. 45. ETHICAL LEADERSHIP--HOW DO YOU MEASURE UP? • Consider the enhancement of the ethical culture as your personal responsibility. • Demand and promote ethical behavior throughout organization. • Insure that any unethical conduct that is observed in the organization is neither tolerated nor ignored.
  46. 46. ETHICAL LEADERSHIP--HOW DO YOU MEASURE UP? • Encourage sincere discussion and resolution of problems. • Support an environment where people are free to discuss “bad news.” • Create an atmosphere where employees are encouraged to use the “open door” without fear of reprisal.
  47. 47. ETHICAL LEADERSHIP--HOW DO YOU MEASURE UP? • Set goals and schedules that do not tempt people to use unethical compromises or shortcuts. • Earn the trust and respect of others. • Treat others with fairness and respect. • Do you know the “Golden Rule?”
  48. 48. This opinion is for educational purposes only. It may be reprinted without further permission, provided that this statement is included before or after the text of the case And appropriate attribution is provided to the National Society of Professional Engineers’ Board of Ethical Review.
  49. 49. CASE STUDY 10 -3
  50. 50. CASE STUDY 10 -3 • BER Case No 10-3-APPROVED.rtf
  51. 51. CASE STUDY 14-6
  52. 52. CASE STUDY 14-6 • BER14-6 APPROVED.rtf
  53. 53. CASE STUDY 14 -9
  54. 54. CASE STUDY 14-9 • BER14-9 APPROVED.rtf

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