Ethix Forum – Issue 12

In the past two issues we have considered the two-sided loyalty question: an employer for its employees in the face of downsizing, and employees for their employer in the current tight job market. Is loyalty important, and what are the key issues to consider today?

The question of employee loyalty is particularly troubling for information technology (IT) professionals, often placing them in conflict of interest situations. For decades research about IT professionals indicates that their professional loyalty far exceeds their employer loyalty. Add to that the fact that IT folks are typically hired on the basis of the vendor products in which they are skilled, and the result are the significant imbalances we see today especially in the software industry whereby too much market power has wound up in the hands of vendors at the expense of customers (i.e., the employers of IT folks). Though techies are supposed to make IT decisions in the best interests of their employers, in many enterprises, there’s little evidence they do this.

Sadly, most indications are that things are only getting worse given the growing demand for certain IT skills and the many once unbiased IT consultant who are now partnering with IT vendors. It is unlikely things will improve until enterprise management, the ultimate customers and purse string holders, starts managing IT like any other asset and paying more attention to IT decisions, projects and practices.
Leon A. Kappelman, Ph.D.
Director, Information Systems Research Center
Associate Professor, Business Computer Information Systems
Associate Director, Center for Quality & Productivity
University of North Texas
Denton, TX

As integrity is a decision to put truth above the interests of yourself, loyalty is a decision to put the interests of someone or something else above the interests of yourself. Being deliberately and intentionally loyal, without compromising integrity, is an important cahracter trait that should be encouraged and developed. An individual’s loyalties say much about the kind of person (or organization) they have chosen to be.

As implied in the context of the forum question, loyalty is no longer being modeled in the work place by either employer or employee. The key issue is that self and wealth have become core values.
Scott Bradley
Redmond, WA

If you want to retain your best workers it takes hard work! Gone are the days when employees would stay at a firm and make it a career. It’s no longer true in professional sports, and it’s no longer true in the business world. I am constantly amazed at the ignorance or arrogance that managers demonstrate when they criticize workers for their lack of loyalty. It’s time to realize that top talent is in constant demand in a highly competitive market. Top talent at major high-tech firms, for example, get an average of three calls a week from recruiters.

Assuming that your top talent is not going to get a better offer than their current job is arrogant! Assuming that top talent is not looking is naive at best. Take continuous offers as a given. Your job as a manager then becomes relatively simple. Your job is to assure that the best offer comes from within the firm as opposed to from outside it!

Re-recruit your top talent!

Excerpted from the article “Re-Recruit Your Top Talent… If You Want Loyalty, Buy A Dog!” Electronic Recruiting Daily, June 9, 2000. (
John Sullivan, Ph.D.
CTO, Agilent Technologies (on leave)
Head of the Human Resources Management Program,
San Francisco State University
San Francisco CA