Describe a time in your professional or academic life in which your ethics were challenged. How did you deal with the situation and what did you learn from it? (Suggested length – 1 double spaced page)
I was leading the installation of a safety system at an offshore drilling rig. During routine testing, my team discovered a fault in the locking mechanism of the pressure let-off system. This was then found to be widespread in the component supplies.
I raised the issue with my supervisors. However, they downplayed the issue due to concerns regarding schedule and budget overruns. A failure rate of 6% they argued was not a significant concern. I, however, disagreed and believed that it was a real and tangible risk that needed to be addressed. After repeated unsuccessful appeals to my supervisors, I decided to escalate the matter.
I requested a meeting with the Director of Operations for Western Australia and explained to him my concerns. I showed him why a 6% failure rate was unacceptable and described a possible “what-if” scenario. I highlighted that there was a realistic risk to employee safety, and hence to the company’s reputation.
By successfully convincing the Director, I was able to freeze the usage of these defective components. A newer lot of certified and validated locking components were later used. We did fall behind on the project schedule; however, I take comfort in the fact that my actions helped prevent a potential safety hazard.
This experience taught me how to handle ethical concerns in the workplace. I learned when and how to raise issues with higher authorities. I learned how to work within the organization system to resolve contentious differences of opinion. Most importantly, I learned the importance of conviction to stand my ground and to never compromise on my principles.
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