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The ethics of walking away

Thursday 9 February, 2023
by Anonymous

woman walking away

You have seen and been subject to unethical behaviours in an organisation that you decide you can no longer be complicit to, so you leave. This does mean leaving behind colleagues who also recognise the bad behaviour.

Now that you are in a new role and experiencing a positive culture, you reflect on what your responsibility is to your former colleagues and the impact that organisation is having on its customers. Is it OK to simply walk away?

What would you do?

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

Photo by pinstock on istockphoto


There are 5 comments for The ethics of walking away.

Re: The ethics of walking away

Thursday 9 February, 2023
by Michael
Walking away from poor ethical behaviour is in itself is poor behaviour. In leaving, all you have done is left your colleagues to 'fix' the problem, or worse still allowed the problem to continue unabated.
All good organisations have whistleblowing programmes and policies. If not, that says something about the organisation.
There are often other ways of reporting poor behaviour whether it be senior executive, CEO, Board member, regulator etc.

Re: The ethics of walking away

Friday 10 February, 2023
by Sarah
I have had this happen to me and it was extremely difficult. In my exit interview I called out the bad behaviour and named specific culprits - I had nothing to lose. But I know that person is still there, 8 months later and that my colleagues were suffering back then and probably still are if they weren't able to get out. I felt guilty for a while but that was almost as bad as feeling disempowered when I was there, so now I think there is only so much I can do. It still doesn't feel good unfortunately.

Re: The ethics of walking away

Friday 10 February, 2023
by Stephen
Michael, I think in theory that sounds right but is not always easy in practice. I have had management acknowledge another managers style as 'difficult and at time inappropriate' but replacing him was not an option and work arounds were put into place.

Re: The ethics of walking away

Friday 10 February, 2023
by Elbe
At one of our major banks 10 years ago - I raised issue thru multiple channels - My leader/other senior leaders/ HR/Risk/Compliance/Whistle-blower hotline -- nothing was done. In the end I walked away as I felt I had a target on my back. Many years later I am in a different job and find out that multiple people have been raising issues with the same senior individual -and all of them had been penalised for raising the issues- the Bank did nothing, the CEO was well aware there were issues. The Bank ignore the problem till it became impossible for them to ignore in other words their own control procedures caught the person and it had to be reported to the regulator.

Re: The ethics of walking away

Friday 24 February, 2023
by Anon
@michael, your statements are true that
- “All good organisations have…..” and
- it “says something about the company [if they don’t]”

But neither of those is helpful to an individual facing these circumstances it is worth reading about whistleblowers’ experiences of trying to do as you recommend.

Many you won’t hear about, due to non-disclosure agreements they were forced to sign on the way out.

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