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The ethics of confidentiality… what would you do?

Thursday 25 February, 2021
by Anonymous

At a social event with people you know well, your friend Elena tells the story of a former colleague of hers - Tom - who was accused of sexual harassment about 10 years ago. Elena explains the matter was played down at the time, kept confidential by the organisation and there was no formal complaint or record. 

Although there is no evidence, Elena – who worked at the same organisation at the time - heard rumours there was a substantial payout to the accuser, who left the organisation not long after. 

Tom also left the organisation quickly and moved overseas, but has recently returned to Australia and started working in financial services.

Later in the evening Elena reveals Tom’s full name. It became clear from the conversation that it is the name of someone who recently joined the leadership role in your current organisation. Elena has requested you keep the information you have obtained confidential.

What would you do?

  • Is there an obligation to reveal this person’s past to HR?
  • How would you feel if this person were to act inappropriately within your workplace in the future?
  • Does it create a bias that now clouds your judgement of them as a person and leader?
  • What obligation do you have to your friend to respect the confidentiality request?

We challenge you to create a healthy discussion with your colleagues and post a comment below. You could even encourage them to consider taking The Banking and Financial Services Oath!

Please share your ethical dilemmas with us - we can post them anonymously. You can email your dilemmas to 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash


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The Oath

  • Trust is the foundation of my profession.
  • I will serve all interests in good faith.
  • I will compete with honour.
  • I will pursue my ends with ethical restraint.
  • I will help create a sustainable future.
  • I will help create a more just society.
  • I will speak out against wrongdoing and support others who do the same.
  • I will accept responsibility for my actions.
  • In these and all other matters;
    My word is my bond.