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Ethics – Still in the Forefront

This year has been ‘different’ – no matter who you are or what you do, the rules have changed.  We go into buildings wearing a mask (who ever thought that going into a bank wearing a mask would be acceptable behavior).  We silently judge people when they are wearing their masks improperly.  We keep our ‘health circle’ small and tight.  We eat home more. 

The topic of Ethics continues to stay the same

Throughout this pandemic, companies have worked hard to survive.  They have continued to work to hire key staff and keep their current staff.  When we have been asked about our search experience (when we have been called upon to partner with clients in finding key leaders), we always discuss ethics.  We have encountered two examples that clients have brought to our attention in the past few months (examples from other firms that felt wrong to them) – and they need to be explained. 

Conflicting Searches

Conducting two identical searches in the same ‘space’ (market or function) creates multiple issues.  Which client gets the best candidate?  What if both clients want the same candidate – is there a bidding war?  We encountered a firm that is conducting seven identical searches at the same time (yes – seven).  While each of the seven clients is unique, four are in healthcare and three are in academia.  The questions mentioned were my first reaction.  My clients have agreed.  The message – ask your search firm to explain their position on conducting conflicting searches.  You as a client need to be the search firm’s number one priority. 

Dual Processing of Candidates

Can a candidate be active in two searches being conducted by the same firm?  This is very common in contingent search – it is a practice that is not questioned; it is simply assumed.  In retained search, it is rarely discussed but should be.  The questions mentioned in the Conflicting Searches paragraph above need to be asked again.  While the candidate is likely thrilled, the client is the customer – and is not being appropriately served.  Again, ask your search firm to explain their position on this practice. 

There are multiple other search ethics themes that need to be addressed.  While ethics has been an ongoing theme in the Abeln, Magy, Underberg & Associates blog (and, of course, in our practice), this topic needs to be addressed again – and will be a continuing theme of the blog (and in our work) in the future. 

This doesn't change regardless of the times we are in.