The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® has asked its global members to comment on what, if anything, most businesses should do about privacy as it relates to the Internet, social media, and related areas. "There is confusion about legal, ethical, and pragmatic policies," observes SAC CEO Alan Weiss, PhD. "Here are two conclusions summarizing our findings."
"Some expectations of digital privacy may seem reasonable, but they are irrelevant," says Ann Latham of Uncommon Clarity, a Massachusetts consulting firm (http://UncommonClarity.com). "Every transmission, whether text or image, whether sent via email, Facebook, text message, or other mechanism, has the ability to come back and haunt you." Latham recommends you save topics like love, anger, and gossip for private conversation. "If you would be embarrassed to show your grandmother, you probably shouldn’t send it at all."
Dr. Maynard Brusman is a San Francisco Bay Area consulting psychologist and executive coach. He is the president of Working Resources, a strategic talent management consulting firm. www.workingresources.com He offers a few insights:
Dr. Brusman notes, "Most employers give their employees a reasonable amount of workplace privacy. Few managers grow concerned when an employee occasionally visits a news website or sends an email home. However, while at work except in the company restroom or locker room, employees have no legal privacy rights. A recent CareerBuilder® survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals found that nearly two in five companies used social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to research job candidates to see if candidates presented themselves professionally and if the candidate was a good fit for the company culture.
"In today's digital world, numerous employers are implementing employee monitoring software. Across the USA, personal privacy on the job is constantly under debate. The courts have repeatedly ruled that employees have no expectation of privacy in the workplace. Protecting employees’ privacy in the workplace requires that workers understand the capabilities of employee monitoring software. This understanding can empower workers so they can feel confident that their sensitive personal information remains their own. An elephant never forgets, and neither does your office digital copy machine which likely has an internal hard drive."
"The fact of the matter," says Weiss, "is that where there is no expectation of privacy there will be no protection, and both employees and employers must bear that in mind at all times. An off-the-cuff comment on Facebook could cost someone a job."