This is a question that I've grappled with for years: At what point does using influence become unethical?
Consider this example:
You have a friend who is an HR director and your spouse is looking for a job.
- Is it unethical to talk to the person about your spouse's job search?
- Would it make a difference if the person is the HR director for a governmental organization that has strict rules regarding selection?
- If your answer is that there should be no mention, why should your friendship with the HR director make you less able to discuss your spouse's job search than could a person who is a stranger?
- By not talking to your friend about the job search, have you engaged in a form of unilateral disarmament in a world in which most people pull strings?
- If you applied for a job with that organization and you learned that another person may have edged you out for the slot because that person had personal ties to the HR director, would you feel that the selection was ethically sound?
- Is the "Everybody does it?" defense acceptable in this case, or in any other for that matter?
I'm still thinking about this one.