75% of Software Engineers Face Retaliation While Reporting Wrongdoing: Study
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75% of software engineers admitted faced retaliation the last time they dared to expose workspace wrongdoing, as per a report.
Over half of the software engineers surveyed admit to suspecting unethical behavior within their workplaces, but a chilling 75% reported facing retaliation the last time they dared to expose wrongdoing, as per a survey by polling firm Survation.
The study further revealed that the fear of reprisal from management (59%) and colleagues (44%) remains a significant barrier, pushing engineers into silence, and allowing potential misconduct to fester unchecked.
An investigation led by Engprax’s CEO Dr Junade Ali exposed alarming trends within the software engineering community. The report, unveiled today, paints a concerning picture of widespread retaliation and the use of banned gagging clauses, raising critical questions about the ethical landscape of the tech industry.
It was found that companies attempt to circumvent public interest disclosure laws through the use of gagging clauses. Even more concerning is the discovery that such clauses, banned by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in 2016, persist within financial institutions.
A prime example is the settlement agreement between Worldpay and BT CEO Philip Jansen, which included an automatic unfair dismissal clause related to protected disclosures, and a payout of £251,282 to Jansen.
“If the clause is in breach of the FCA rules then this is a serious matter that I would expect them to look into, identify the senior people responsible, and take appropriate action. Any lawyers on top of their brief and involved in drafting such a clause would, I think, be expected to advise their clients that such clauses were inappropriate under FCA rules,” said Professor Richard Moorhead, Professor of Law and Professional Ethics at the University of Exeter.
As the software development landscape races towards speed, the metrics frameworks used to assess performance are under scrutiny.
Google‘s DevOps Research and Assessment (DORA) team, known for prioritizing speed and volume, faces criticism as a national poll of British adults reveals that the public values data security, accuracy, and bug prevention over getting the latest features quickly.
The misalignment between industry metrics and public priorities raises concerns about the industry’s oversight.
Software Engineers are Facing ‘Fear Culture’
The investigation reveals a culture of fear and silence among software engineers. One in six engineers feels unable to express ideas or concerns without fearing negative consequences, while nearly one in four hesitate to take calculated risks.
The study underscores the potential misuse of subjective employee feedback mechanisms, emphasizing the need for a transparent and accountable industry culture.
According to it, despite the gravity of the findings, major industry stakeholders, including FIS, Worldpay, BT Group, the Post Office, and the Financial Conduct Authority, have remained silent or declined to comment. This lack of response raises questions about accountability and commitment to addressing the systemic issues identified in the investigation.
As technology continues to evolve and shape daily lives, the report serves as a stark reminder of the ethical responsibilities that come with innovation.
The tech industry must confront the systemic challenges highlighted in the investigation, fostering an environment that values transparency, accountability and the well-being of its workforce.
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