1 September 2008

Project management ethics

Here is a real scenario that you could face.  How would you handle it?

You've won a contract to do a multi-million dollar project for a US DoD agency.

Your team is a team of excellent project and software professionals who have worked together for several years and consistently beaten the odds delivering high value solutions on or very close to budget and planned times.

You are based in Australia (or Canada, France, Germany, Brazil...) and in your country it is illegal to discriminate against staff based on their race.  Racial discrimination is anathema to you anyway, as you are looking for the best and brightest and your experience is that race has nothing to do with talent or motivation.

So you wouldn't think for a moment of getting rid of Johnny Tran, you ace security expert, born in Vietnam, but who moved to your city at age 2.  Or Sara Kahn, an excellent data analyst who moved here six years ago as a refugee from war ravaged Afghanistan.

But now you have a contract that requires you do not employ people born in certain countries due to US security concerns.

What do you do?  Let Sara and Johnny go?  Decline the contract?  Break the law?

The answer for some agencies in Australia has been to apply for exceptions to the law.  Is this an ethical response?

(I guess this is the industry that builds killing and maiming devices in the name of making the world a safer place.)

So project people.  What would you do?

Inspiration for this post was Background Briefing at abc.net.au

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