Awfully Personal Question for September 11, 2004

christinaWelcome to That’s Awfully Personal, an opportunity for blog writers and readers to reveal a little more about themselves than might normally happen during the daily blogging process, and hence get to know each other a bit better. It’s a little like the late, great Friday Five, but more challenging. Each week our Awfully Personal Panel will post one or more new questions for you to answer on your blog, or in the comment space below if you don’t have a blog.

 For more on how That’s Awfully Personal works, please see the How to Play section below. Here is this week’s Awfully Personal Question:

You’re on the fast track to the top of a Fortune 500 company: Your salary has doubled in two years and you’re up for another promotion, to a VP position, next month. But you were accidentally copied on a confidential e-mail intended only for the president of the company, that reveals that the company has clearly been involved in some unethical activities: (1) an unreported chemical spill into a river in Nigeria, (2) a bribe paid to an official  to win a major Italian government contract, and (3) a large liability for an employee pension shortfall that is not shown on the books.

The president has left a voice mail asking you to come to his office ‘at your earliest opportunity’. You’ve talked to a friend of yours, a lawyer, and she’s advised you that most whistle-blowers find their careers at an end, and some get sued for libel. At the same time, she says you could also be charged as an accessory if you fail to report these issues.

Situation 1: The president acknowledges that he knows you received the e-mail, and that the issues discussed are legitimate, and then asks you to say nothing, and that he’s prepared to have the company indemnify you from any liability that should arise as a result of your non-disclosure.

Situation 2: The president acknowledges that he knows you received the e-mail, but says that the issues are ‘complicated’ and there are legitimate, legal reasons why they have not been disclosed. He asks you whether it is your intention to take any action regarding the messages.

What do you do in each case?

How to Play “That’s Awfully Personal”:

  1. Subscribe to (i.e. join) this Yahoo group to get the weekly question(s) sent to you automatically by e-mail each Friday.
  2. On Saturday, or whenever you get around to it, post one of the questions and your answer to it on your weblog or web site.
  3. Then come back here (you may want to bookmark this site) and click the ‘comment’ button under the question(s) of the week. If it’s your first time, you’ll be asked to enter your e-mail and the URL of your blog or website. Then just note that your answer is up. Other readers will then be able to read it on your site by simply clicking on your name in the comments thread. You can check out other people’s answers at the same time. Or, if you don’t have a blog or website, you can post your answer right in the comment box.
  4. If you have questions or observations about “That’s Awfully Personal”, or would like to become part of our Awfully Personal Panel that selects the weekly questions, e-mail us.
  5. If you have a suggestion for Question of the Week, e-mail us and our Panel will review it and, if selected, they will acknowledge you as the author with a link to your blog. Questions should ideally be challenging, so that the answers will be revealing (when answered honestly). But this isn’t Truth or Dare — we want people to want to answer honestly and to have to think a bit before they do.
  6. “That’s Awfully Personal” was developed when The Friday Five closed down. The questions are more thought-provoking and, well, more personal than most Friday Five questions. If they’re too serious for you, here’s a group that is resurrecting The Friday Five, which you might enjoy instead.
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