Q: Provide an example of a time when your integrity was tested and prevailed.
Early in my career, I was working on a manual for a complex financial application. During a technical review, I received information from one of our consultants, which I incorporated into the manual. Shortly after the manual was released, my manager called me to her office to discuss an issue with it. She had received complaints about inaccurate information in the manual. As we discussed the issue, I learned that the complaint originated from the consultant, who was complaining that the information I’d received from her was inaccurate. I was able to produce the source material she’d provided. I had verified the information after receiving it, and I was confident that it was correct. We later discovered that the consultant wanted to keep this information to herself so that she would be the only person able to help clients, and she was upset that it was now published. I was relieved that the content was correct, and happy that this important information was now available to all users.
As technical communicators we often get access to confidential information. I have worked on many high-profile assignments. Once a prospective client was asking questions about my past assignments, especially the one that I did for his competitor. After realizing that his questions are becoming very specific, and cannot be answered without compromising the interest of earlier client, I expressed my inability to answer them. The client tried to put pressure by indicating that if I do not answer I may not get the contract. I politely refused and finally had to walk out of the deal. To my surprise one of the managers attending the meeting contacted me after three years. He told me that he had not liked the questions I was asked and soon had quit his job in that company. He said he was happy that I did not violate the trust of the earlier client therefore was willing to work with me.
In one work situation, a new vice president was hired who was physically and mentally harassing female staff members. The same VP also tried to implement policies and practices that served his own personal ambitions over the interests of the company or the staff.
This person tried to co-opt me with suggestions of promotion and, later, when I didn’t buy in, with intimidation and threats of dismissal. I defended my female team members, going over his head to the CEO to discuss the matter, and opposed his harmful policies. When the problem was not recognized, I negotiated a departure from the company, as I could not accept such behavior, even though I had no replacement job in hand.
By serendipity, I found a new job in a matter of a few weeks. The person in question did not see his first anniversary as vice president of the company.