Leaks and Work Ethics

May 05, 2012

Since the unrest in Oman and in an effort to unveil governmental corruption, many online activists have been working on spreading leaked documents. Some documents exposed the Ministry of Higher Education’s unfair allocation of scholarships to the children of prominent Omani officials and other documents from the Ministry of Housing proved the acquisition of large areas of land by Omani ministers.

When I first saw those documents online, all that I could think of was the content of those documents and not how they were leaked. However, recently when I got accepted as an intern in a petroleum company, I was forced to think about the process and all the people who were behind this leak.

Part of the internship programme involves the handling of medical records of employees. Before signing the internship offer, someone from the HR department was helping me go through all the rules and regulations of that company. When we got to the confidentiality part of the contract, I found myself chuckling at how obvious that bond is - thinking why would anyone want to spread such information, especially that keeping such information confidential is the most basic and important part of work ethics.

Those documents were leaked by people who have access to them - most probably people working in those ministries along with those who were responsible for spreading them online. Some argue that those leaked documents contributed to the unrest and political reforms that Oman has witnessed recently and that the purpose of those people who leaked those documents was to spread awareness about the corruption in Oman.

The truth is, regardless of their motivation, at the end of the day what those people have done is considered unethical in the workplace worldwide.

The most effective way of addressing any problem is looking for its root cause. The curriculums that most schools in Oman follow do not emphasise the importance of soft skills and work ethics enough. The attention is always focused on hard skills - those that can be measured through quizzes and exams.

Parents also play a big role in promoting and rewarding good ethics reflected by their children’s behaviour. Because everything begins at home, when a child is punished for lying, he or she will grow up with that principle implanted in his or her mind. On the other hand, a child who is left unpunished and sometimes even asked to lie for his or her parents, will grow up being indifferent about lying.

Unfortunately, if such behaviour is not implanted in a person’s mind at a very young age, it will be harder to acquire them as a person grows up. Therefore, more efforts need to be directed to the cultivation of virtues that build an ethical, honest and reliable future workforce. This kind of human capital is needed to ensure the growth of Oman because after all, the main reason behind the slow growth of Oman is corruption caused by the lack of work ethics.

Buthaina al Hinai, an undergraduate at the College of Commerce and Economics, Sultan Qaboos University, is passionate about human and social behaviour. Her interests revolve around photography, graphic design, sociology and psychology.