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Ethics in Training


I am doing some research into the role of ethics in the design and development of training, and am interested in the ethical issues trainers might need to take into account and why they would need to consider them. Do readers have any thoughts or ideas in this area? I am considering issues such as diversity (who gets the training? Who benefits?), the Data Protection Act and different learning styles. But what about things like asking people for their informed consent before participation - and asking people to 'go beyond their comfort zone?' Is it ethical to do this? Any thoughts would be welcomed. Thanks very much.
Louise Trimble

5 Responses

  1. Delivery contractors get it worst
    >>>I am considering issues such as diversity (who gets the training? Who benefits?), the Data Protection Act and different learning styles.>>

    Often in the public sector these arent included on ethical grounds. They are legal compliance issues (Data Protection, Freedom of Information, Diversity and Equality issues).

    Ethical issues that often impact contractors employed simply to deliver are – was the TNA accurate as these delegates all say its got nothing to do with them and I’ll be scored down as a result.
    Are the methods employed to train ethical – horror stories of company cultures harking abck to 1950’s company training, “break ’em down and mould ’em.”
    Conflict stories from contractors who are asked to deliver training that simply fills in time and is aimed at getting good happy scores rather than addressing delegates needs.
    Being caught in the middle of managers and the training function mid training.

  2. Info
    My mentor recently presented at a National Conference about this subject. I should be able to send you the conclussions.

  3. Thanks to contributors
    Thanks very much for your responses. Juliet, I hadn’t really thought about the role of the contractor, so thank you for your insights. Kon, I’d very much like to see what you have on this subject. Thanks very much. My e-mail is [email protected]

  4. Ethics
    I have produced a guide on ethics for those working in learning, development and training. Let me have your email and I will send you a copy.
    I am sorry I cannot extend this offer to everyone but you will find full details in the 2005 edition of ‘Learning & Development’ written by Rosemary Harrison and published by the CIPD. Rosemary also gives some examples and ideas on the topic.

  5. Was this training strategy ethical?
    A call centre training manager phoned the call centre and pretended to be a customer, without asking consent, and recorded the conversation in order to play it to call centre staff at a training meeting. The call centre employee was not at the training meeting but heard about it later as her voice was recognised by her colleagues. She was angry that that permission hadn’t been requested, or a warning given, although this would have defeated the object of the exercise.

    Was this lawful and ethical?

    Legally, this practice is permitted under the Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) (Interception of Communications) Regulations 2000; see

    In particular regulation 3(a)(i)(cc), which specifically allows interception to “ascertain or demonstrate the standards which are achieved or ought to be achieved by persons using the system in the course of their duties”.

    Ethically, it is debateable. Using deontological ethics, deontology requires sticking to moral rules or duties because they are right in themselves. Where does the call centre training manager’s duty lie? Is the greater duty towards all the call centre staff (and customers) in terms of aiming for highly effective customer service training, or is the greater duty towards the call centre employee who was misled into thinking that she was speaking with a genuine customer?

    Using utilitarian (consequential) ethics, utilitarianism focuses on the usefulness or consequences of a course of action, whether the result will be the greatest amount of good or happiness, for the greatest number, and with the least amount of harm or unhappiness. Did the good derived from the training value of the recorded conversation for those attending the training meeting outweigh the harm and distress caused to the call centre employee, or did the harm outweigh the good?


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