Grey matters ethical dilemma: Not my problem

Dee’s former colleague Gemma is choosing to not self-report a criminal offence to her employer and her professional body. Should Dee take matters into her own hands?


For three years Dee and Gemma worked at the same investment firm, Invest Plus. Dee has recently moved to a new role at another investment firm more local to her. Since the start of their working relationship, they have been sitting similar exams with the same professional body, which requires members to adhere to a Code of Conduct, including self-reporting any offences. They have supported each other through the exams and processes.

They usually meet up once a week over coffee to compare notes and discuss areas of difficulty in their study material. However, over the past couple of weeks Dee has noticed that Gemma has been unusually stressed and agitated and just ‘not her usual self’. She has been cancelling on Dee at the last minute and not keeping up with the reading material.
Gemma has not informed her manager or her professional body about the conviction

It’s appraisal time at Invest Plus, and during their catch-up, Dee and Gemma talk about the appraisal system and how much they rely on the bonus, especially right after Christmas. While they are getting ready to leave, Gemma hesitantly tells Dee that she had to attend the magistrates’ court the previous week because of a criminal offence which she had pleaded guilty to. Dee is shocked but tries to comfort Gemma and now understands why she has appeared so stressed recently.

Gemma says that there is a chance that the story will be picked up by the local paper because she was pressed for a comment by a journalist, who approached her as she was leaving the magistrates’ court. Gemma told the journalist she had been “finding work and personal life pretty stressful”, which had led to some bad decision-making. Dee asks what the conviction was for, but Gemma looks at her phone and starts talking about the train times.

Dee learns that Gemma has not informed her manager or her professional body about the criminal conviction. Dee encourages her to do so but Gemma says, “With appraisal time looming, I don’t want it to impact how much bonus I will get. I just really hope it doesn’t get published online.” Gemma tells Dee she will inform the necessary people once the appraisals have been completed and her bonus has been paid. They then say goodbye to each other and take their trains home.

The following month, Dee meets up with Gemma again and asks how things are going at work and at home, and Gemma confirms that she is feeling much better and less stressed now. Dee asks Gemma how her manager took the news about her conviction and finds out she hasn’t mentioned anything to her manager, or her professional body.

Readers selected one of the following options in response to the question of what Dee should do next (voting is now closed): 
  1. Contact the professional body and anonymously report Gemma.
  2. Meet for coffee with the HR staff member, an old friend from Invest Plus, and casually mention that you overheard something about Gemma.
  3. Do nothing. The onus is on Gemma to report any disciplinary offences to her professional body and her employer, and she will have to declare it at some stage.
  4. Speak with Gemma again and advise her to report the criminal conviction a second time.

This dilemma appears in the October 2020 flipbook edition of The Review magazine. The CISI's opinion and voting results will be published in the January 2021 edition
Published: 30 Sep 2020
  • Wealth Management
  • Training, Competence and Culture
  • Integrity & Ethics
  • Integrity Debate
  • grey matters ethical dilemma
  • Code of Conduct
  • appraisal

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