Ethical Considerations When Leaving Your Job
The goal of security career progression is to advance into more senior positions based on your performance in your current role. Often this means changing organizations, and it is likely your new employer hired you because of your previous experience and accomplishments. Aside from your good name, what should you bring with you to your new employer? In today’s climate, the answer is adamantly not someone else’s intellectual property.
I have recently read articles in leading publications that advocate preparedness before moving to a new employer. They encourage people to use any advance notice they have of their career change to retain copies of their work product or anything else they might need to be successful in their new job. Security departments take a dim view of this activity, and it is often why employees who have resigned are immediately escorted out of the office.
The combination of technology and remote working makes this even more of a challenge from an employer’s perspective. Massive amounts of information changes hands at a dizzying pace through electronic mediums. The apparent acceptance of intellectual property infringements within various social media services has further desensitized workforces to the issue. Given the field you represent, it is even more incumbent upon you as a security professional to act in an ethical manner.
Organizations ask new employees to execute compliance-related documents upon hiring and sometimes on an annual basis. Yet each year there are countless civil and criminal cases whereby organizations have to defend their rights to their intellectual property. It is foolish to think your former employer will not come after you legally if you decide to take something with you that does not belong to you. Courts are increasingly sympathetic to the issue of misappropriation of data.
It is important to remember that unless stated in a legally binding employment contract or other published rules or policies, any work developed or produced by any individual in connection with their employment belongs to the employer. Regardless of monetary value, copying and removing samples of internal policies, procedures, studies, white papers, lists, emails, contracts or non-public materials is neither ethical nor good practice. Obtain your employer’s agreement before you choose to take something. If you are uncomfortable asking for permission or feel you have to hide your actions, you already know the answer.
Similarly, permanently deleting any of your work product from your employer’s systems prior to leaving would create a very negative view.
Leave your current job with the respect of your colleagues. Welcome the challenges of your new role relying on your good name and earned experience to take you to the next level. Both your past and present employers expect it.