How can an employer screen out terrorists?

London is one of our favorite cities. We mourn the victims of yet another terror attack. We agree this has to stop. We find ourselves wearing the same stupid face when asking ourselves, “How can we prevent this mess?” as we wore the last time it happened.

Sometimes it helps to reduce the argument. In ethics, we know that everyone comes to the table with a different set of rules. Ask around—or just watch peoples’ behavior—and you will see that everyone has a general idea of right and wrong but the specifics vary. For instance, one person values only his contributions and salary, while another wants to celebrate others’ contributions before his own and advocates for higher wages for others. In those two cases, we see values in action. A person’s collected set of values and behaviors tell us her ethics.

What has this to do with terrorism?

Reduce it to your organization. If you hire people who terrorize your values, you’ll lose morale, good people, and a good deal of business, won’t you? If your core values and the behaviors that exemplify those values are vague, how can you restrict who comes in?

What do you do with people who hold different values—terrorists, for instance--given that terrorists do not truthfully advertise their values? Neither are the guy interviewing Monday afternoon or the girl Tuesday morning advertising their real values.

5 Ethical Questions

  1. Can you explain the benefits of non-discrimination on personal values for an organization or a country?
  2. Can you explain what makes your set of values better than someone else’s?
  3. How do you test the real values of people who want to work for your organization (and does that test work for people who want to enter your country)?
  4. What values that seem to be ignored would you like to see enforced at your organization?
  5. How would you measure and enforce those values?

Bonus: If you’re a person of faith, how does your faith inform your ethical boundaries?