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Ethics in Technology

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I wrote above:
Following the above comments, I would suggest from experience that the consideration of shady/dodgy, immoral, corrupt, unethical, borderline legal and downright illegal strategies is arguably the necessary norm for savvy senior management in many/most organisations, not just the three mentioned in the OP. ...
-IainB (September 24, 2015, 01:05 AM)
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Today I came across a very interesting case in point here: How High-Flying Zenefits Fell To Earth - BuzzFeed News
The instructions that circulated through the offices of Zenefits, the fast-growing human resources startup, looked innocent enough. In six steps, new recruits were told how to download and run a simple piece of software that would speed up the process of becoming a licensed health insurance broker in California — a mandatory credential for their work selling insurance to small businesses.

But there was something about this program that seemed a little too sensitive to put into writing.

“Let’s discuss what’s below when we chat on the phone,” one manager wrote in a 2014 email, in reference to the instructions.

Left unsaid was that use of the program, known as a macro, would allow a sales rep to shortchange a requirement under California law. By keeping them logged into an online course, even while they were sleeping or doing something else, the macro enabled Zenefits employees to spend less than the legally mandated 52 hours in pre-licensing training. Newly hired sales reps, who often lacked an insurance background, used the macro as early as 2013, the year Zenefits launched, and as recently as last year, former employees say.

This institutionalized cheating finally caught up with the San Francisco-based Zenefits last week, when Parker Conrad, the 35-year-old co-founder and CEO, was forced to resign over what the company described as widespread failures of regulatory compliance. The shakeup, announced in a blistering memo from David Sacks, the executive who took over as CEO, stunned the tech establishment, which had supported Zenefits’ rise. It showed how Silicon Valley’s cult of hypergrowth — of which Zenefits was a leading exemplar, having achieved a $4.5 billion valuation shortly after its second birthday — can create unexpected and even disastrous problems.

The macro, while leading to Conrad’s ouster, according to two people familiar with the matter, was only one in a list of ways Zenefits sought to speed up its ascent, many of which have not previously been revealed. Sales reps threatened to charge a phony implementation fee as a lever to close deals. Managers urged new recruits to try to score not much higher than the minimum passing grade of 60% on the California broker license exam. Pervading the offices in San Francisco and Arizona, meanwhile, was an almost fraternity-like atmosphere, with whiskey shots, kegs, and bottles of champagne.

“We must admit that the problem goes much deeper than just process,” Sacks told employees in his memo. “Our culture and tone have been inappropriate for a highly regulated company.” ...

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