Global Values, Group-Think and Your Job

By Renee Carter

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I’ve been working at my new job now for a year. In July was my one-year anniversary and the time came due for my yearly evaluation.

Normally and in times past this is how it would go: In the beginning of your employ you’re given a job description and each of the parts of that description carries a certain “weight” which of course is attached a percentage that will (hopefully) translate into an increase in your salary at some point.

In this age of “global values” and “interdependence” a heavy emphasis is placed upon your willingness to conform to group values and meet group goals. In this case it’s the policy of the corporation. We are required to attend yearly “ethics” meetings. These are facilitated meetings where a diverse group of people, dialogue to consensus over a social issue (crisis, goal of some sort) to a pre-determined outcome. The outcome that is predetermined is that you will conform to the group or you will look for another job. What, you ask, is so important that your boss would fire you if you didn’t conform? In health care, the predetermined outcome is “patient confidentiality.”

But back to the job eval for a moment.

On the evaluation there were 10 different areas you are expected to meet “standard” or what is acceptable. The scale goes something like this: 4.0 is “Consistently above standard and goes above and beyond their job description.” This rating requires written documentation by a supervisor or department head. 3.5 is “Consistently above standard” but does not require documentation. 3.0 is “Above standard.” 2.0 is “Meets standard.” Under 2.0 and you probably are “history” as they say.

In 6 of the 10 areas I received a 3.5. In two areas I received a 3.0 and 2 areas I received a 2.0.

What I learned from this experience is that someone else’s opinion of how you meet ‘standards’ is what determines your “worth” and therefore determines your dollar amount of increase. These are purely subjective in nature as are all opinions and are emotion-based, not fact based. This is an “assessment” of your worth. Objective standards on the other hand are as follows:

Does he/she do the job? Is he/she qualified to do the job? Does he/she arrive to work on time? Does he/she dress appropriately for the job? Etc.

The organization supplying the ethics program can be found here: [The Council of Ethical Organizations] All employees are required to attend. The idea behind ethics training for employees springs from psychosocial life skills that are considered to be essential for continued employment within the health care industry. These same psychosocial skills requirements are also present in public school curriculums under the misnomer, “Character Education.”

The ethics meetings are setup like this: A diverse group of people, dialoguing to consensus, over a social issue, to a pre-determined outcome. Essentially your employer seduces you with your needs. Your “need” is to remain employed. But what is required of you? The requirement is that you conform to “the group” and what the group decides by consensus. However the employer in this case has made the predetermined outcome.

The ethics meetings take the participants through a series of scenarios very like the dilemmas used in the public school classroom designed by Lawrence Kohlberg. These are the “Life Boat” dilemma, and “Bomb Shelter” and others.

Here is the initial scenario:

“You are working in Food Service at your job. A fellow employee who is new on the job, Andy, a Hispanic, is quite popular with the other employees. Since Andy was hired, you and others have noticed that Andy is questioned on insignificant issues on a regular basis by your supervisor who is not Hispanic. Your supervisor has always treated you and others fairly in the past, but you believe he is treating Andy unfairly to get him to resign. What should you do?”

The scenario gives several answers for you to choose from in your discussion in the class. It is hinted that your own answers are not to be considered. You must choose from the ones provided.

In the public school classroom, in the Life Raft dilemma, the children are not psychologically prepared to make any sort of decisions regarding life and death. Indeed they do not even realize that they are being manipulated at all. The values they may have brought with them to school regarding the value of human life they have been asked to set aside.

The scenarios at the ethics meetings increase in the degree of difficulty of decision making to the last one regarding life and death. Again, it is strongly inferred that you must not come up with your own answers. You must choose from those provided.

“You are working in medical records. Your best friend also happens to be your boss in that department. At lunch one day she confides to you she has met someone and sees herself in a long-term relationship with him. She is anxious to get married and start having a family right away.

One day soon afterward, a chart crosses your desk and you identify it as one belonging to the man whom your best friend plans to marry. In it you note that he has been treated for the signs and symptoms associated with the AIDS virus. This is a shock to you because you begin to suspect that your best friend knows nothing of his condition.

You know that as a health care worker, you are required to respect his patient confidentiality, but at the same time, what are you to do about passing this information along to your friend and perhaps help her to avert tragedy?”

The questions provided at the end of this scenario are as follows. Please note the way the questions are worded and the inferences!

1.) What responsibilities do/should you have, if any, to protect your friend?

2.) What options might you have to advise her of her boyfriend’s condition without violating patient confidentiality?

3.) Are there times when you simply have to put rules aside in the health care environment?

In the actual facilitated meeting in which I was present, it was very surprising to hear the comments of those present. Most of these were young, professional nurses who adamantly declared they would strictly adhere to patient confidentiality. And what of the continued good health and perhaps continued LIFE of your best friend? Of course the pre-determined outcome your employer wishes you to reach is absolute strictest patient confidentiality.

Later on towards the end of the meeting, I told the facilitator that it was my position as a moral human being (aside from the fact of my being a committed Christian believer!) I had an obligation to stand between evil and innocence. The evil being the disease and the innocent being my friend who was apparently unaware of his treatment for the “signs and symptoms associated with the AIDS virus.”

I further explained to the facilitator that I could not and indeed would not stand before my Maker at the end of my life and seek to justify to Him why I did not take a stand between the innocent person and the evil of the disease. Going on, I explained that I was not accountable to a bloodless and soulless corporation (my employer) but rather to the King of the Universe, My Lord, and My God!

She fumbled for words and said, “Well, it is a hard decision and there are sometimes no right or wrong answers.”

I told her it was not a hard decision. One simply had to know where one’s ultimate allegiance belonged.

Whatever consequences might result from my taking such a stand I would just have to deal with should they come. There are absolutes that exist in our lives whether those around us want to acknowledge them or not. It is a ‘given’ in this world that not everyone will adhere to Godly principles.

Ephesians 6:10 and following states: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

A Christian simply cannot adhere to the “group” whenever the “outcome” has been decided by consensus. Accountability to a “higher authority” is what a Christian must live by, no matter who else decides what!

II Timothy 3:12 states: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”

If you take a principled stand against “consensus” you will be harassed for holding to your position.

Persecution is nothing less than this.

The sermon that Stephen preached in Acts Chapter 7 was enough to get himself stoned by those doing “groupthink”. Stephen the first martyr refused to compromise for the sake of “the group.”

Pilate turned over Jesus Himself to “the group” when Pilate asked them, what he should do with Him:

Matthew 27:17

“Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?

And again in Matthew 27:22

“Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? [They] all say unto him, Let him be crucified.”

In a ‘consensus’ built world, good is turned into evil and evil into good. But as Christians, even though we are harassed for holding to our positions, He will reward us!

See also Two UN Summits, One Millennium Goal and Local Agenda 21- The U.N. Plan for Your Community

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