By Jillian Swain
As a parent, a voluntary school governor and an ethics manager for a UK FTSE 100 company, Andy Phippen’s opening session on “Digital Behaviour Among Millennials in the Workplace: Managing Digital Risk in the Workplace” gave me much to reflect on from both a personal and a professional perspective.
From a personal point of view, with a nine-year-old son who is an avid player of the online games Minecraft and Clash of Clans, and asks me every week “Mum, when can I have a YouTube account?”, Andy’s session was both shocking and informative. It served as a wake-up call to the risks that digital technology and, in particular, social media present to our children today. As a governor at a local primary school, a role that I volunteered for because I wanted to use my experience in the workplace for the benefit of our school community, I was reminded of my responsibility to make sure that the children, parents, staff and governors are all aware of the risks that digital technology presents.
At school, we have already started to do this by inviting external speakers to talk to the children and their parents about safer internet use, however I now recognise that this activity should not be done as a one-off, and I will be taking steps to make sure that messaging on this subject is frequent and reaching those who are potentially most at risk. From a professional point of view, as an ethics manager for a global company, when I return from this conference, I will be asking if we have done enough to communicate our social media policy and provide training in this area.
For me this means making sure that our “Millennial” apprentices and graduate trainees have a good understanding of our social media policy, and the potential consequences of a breach to their own career and to the reputation of our company. It also means making sure that our managers and leaders who may not be as tech-savy do not dismiss the risk that poor digital behaviour presents through lack of knowledge or experience in this area.
Finally, building on comments made by Paul Fiorelli in his session “Why Good People do Bad Things”, I will take away from this conference a better understanding of how employees can cross an ethical line by rationalising bad behaviour as acceptable because “everyone does it”. This is particularly relevant in the digital context when unethical behaviour that would not be acceptable in real life can become normalised due the medium in which it occurs. Finally, I also realise that digital behaviour in the workplace is not an IT issue, but one which should be viewed in the wider context of employee behaviour and upholding the values of trust, integrity and respect that are the cornerstones of good ethical behaviour in a company.