I was in a very sticky situation a couple of days back. Although I tackled it my way but it made me question if honesty and integrity have become a privilege of the rare. Has it really become a norm to assume that honest ones are naive or dimwitted?
I am going to leave my current organisation in 2 weeks and join another partner company right after. The offer came as a pleasant surprise and I happily accepted. Meanwhile, I was also pursuing other companies but nothing had materialised by the time I accepted this offer. 2 days back I got a call from one of those other companies with whom I had interviewed some time back. They wanted to go ahead and offer me the role. Ideally this should have been a very exciting moment for me, but I was disheartened. Although this was one of the most sought-after companies in my field and the role was really ambitious for me, it came at the wrong time. I asked them for some time to think about it because I was super confused to say anything.
I was in a dilemma because I had already accepted an offer with another great organisation who had been my clients and I had loved working with them. On the other hand, I was being offered one of my dream roles in another great organisation. I spent the whole night just analysing the pros and the cons. I prepared a list of questions and discussed with the hiring manager. Finally, I discussed with my friends and colleagues in both these companies to get a better perspective.
Almost everyone suggested the same thing. Join the previous company with whom you already have an offer. Keep working for them until the new company completes the formalities (they are a little slow and their process usually takes a few months, plus there was the visa transfer etc.) and then simply switch. As simple as that! They were surprised why am I even spending so much time thinking about it. I mean, this way I would get the best of both worlds – 2 big names in my resume! What could be better?
I was actually appalled at how many people thought that way. This is plain deceitfulness if you ask me. Why would I want to use any company as a tool? I would not only burn the bridges but also not really learn anything substantial from the role in such a short time. Was this really required?
Apparently, everyone misunderstood what my dilemma was. My confusion was about which company to join of the two, not how to use both and make a star-studded resume.
I considered it unethical because the company would spend so much money, time and resources on hiring me and I would just leave them in a few months? Its one thing if I was forced to leave because of some unforeseen situation. But otherwise, I couldn’t think of any way to justify taking such a step. It just felt wrong. Also, why am I a fool by being transparent? Is this not rewarded anymore? Have our morals changed?
The shocking part was that when I expressed this, I was called stupid and emotional (if being emotional was a bad thing, which I don’t get). I was asked to use my brains and not my heart since this is a cruel world to survive. One of my friends gave me this analogy when I asked about something called “conscience” – ‘When companies fire people, do they think about us? And anyways, they have already extracted more work from you than what they were paying you for, you being a star-performer n all. So its nothing unfair you would be doing because it’s all business. Nobody does charity here. And if anyone thinks that, they are really naive and will learn the hard way.’
Wow! That was really harsh. I have two questions now –
- What role are the companies playing in harboring this culture? Of course, there is no smoke without fire. Are they really not keen on retaining good talent that we have to lie and cheat this way?
- Why are employees assuming that everyone plays this dishonest game? Is this a macho thing that is a credit in the popular patriarchal work culture?
Its clearly a two-way problem which labels that – If I dont use the system for my gain, the sytem will use me for theirs.
Finally I decided to follow my heart (and my brain, for that matter, since they were in sync, this time at least ;-)). I told the situation to both companies in separate calls and requested for an honest opinion. And boy, am I happy to have done that! This could have gone either way and been an eye-opener for me. But not only did I earn respect for my honesty, it all ended perfectly and I went home with no extra baggage or guilt. Absolutely clear on conscience and clear on the future 🙂
No compromise with integrity!
P.S. – There is also a feminist angle to this story which will be my next post. Look out!
[Update : The related post is now published here]