Your Employees Are Stealing (And They Don’t Even Feel Guilty)

by Evil HR Lady on February 9, 2013

Ever email a document to your home email account? What about transferring some specs to your iPad so you can study them on your flight? Did you delete them when you were done with them?

You probably answered yes, yes, and no. Intellectual property is so easily transferred from device to device that we don’t think about it being property the same way our office chair is property. When someone quits a job, they wouldn’t think about packing up their desk and filing cabinet and hauling it out to the parking lot. And if someone did, I bet you’d try to stop them. (“Hey, Joe! Put the desk down!”)

To keep reading click here: Your Employees are Stealing (And They Don’t Even Feel Guilty About it) (INC)

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous February 9, 2013 at 2:26 pm

What if you work in an industry where it is expected that you will show a portfolio of work to prospective employers in interviews? Obviously the company you’re working at now does not want you showing work you’ve done with them to another company, and they can say “you signed a confidentiality agreement!” But the company itself hired you based on the portfolio you showed them…which violated somebody else’s confidentiality agreements. A lot of the time now, I’m even told I have to send my portfolio via email before an interview will be granted — at least if I could take a hard copy and show it in person, or show it on my iPad, I could ensure my portfolio isn’t passed around the hiring company.

I think if your company asks to see that kind of thing (and in my experience, it’s not so that the company can pirate ideas, it’s to see whether the candidate has skills), you should forfeit the right to prevent employees from showing a portfolio in a controlled setting like that.


Evil HR Lady February 13, 2013 at 12:50 pm

I think there is a big difference between showing a portfolio and using that work in the new job.

In my current line of work, my portfolio is, well, this blog, so even though copyrights are owned by various other companies, it’s pretty easy for someone to access.


HL February 9, 2013 at 4:32 pm

My portfolio includes a disclaimer notifying reviewers that the samples are the proprietary property of the organizations indicated and used with permission as demonstration of ability. My portfolio stays with me. If a company insists on a sample prior to an interview, I would be wary, but might comply after generalizing and watermarking the heck out of the sample (proving I can do the work – intellectual property is not free). Also, I never do spec work.


Charles February 10, 2013 at 11:46 pm

As a trainer, the work I do for a company is THEIR property. Often it is also confidential about their new system for whatever that they do NOT want the competition to know about.

That being said I do include work samples in my portfolio. Only it has been “sanitized” to remove confidential info, yet, retain enough to show what I can do.

Even then, there have been some projects that I would love to show a potential employer what I did; but, explain that I simply cannot. Most have been understanding. The few that say something like, “well, just show me, I won’t tell anyone.” are actually telling me how unethical they are and I don’t mind if I don’t work for them.


Pragmatist February 11, 2013 at 2:59 pm

I like the phone policy – it does make it easier to deal with the less mindful types of leakage. However, I’d love to see real world policies of the sort. Does anyone have any samples?


anonymous February 13, 2013 at 12:46 pm

I wouldn’t feel guilty at all. The corporations don’t. I worked for a $30B company that regularly screwed their employees, vendors, and even customers every chance they could for the sake of the bottom line. They denied me a bonus that I earned because the business unit lost money even though corporate had [literally] billions in the bank. They fired me for a ’cause’ (later ruled not so by a panel of judges) to avoid $16,000 in severance since my job was to be eliminated within the year anyway.

Do I feel any guilty about sharing anything that belongs to them? Absolutely not! The same document that says I won’t share their IP is the same one that says they owe me $16,000. If they won’t honor their end of the deal I won’t honor mine.

Yes I agree that two wrongs don’t make a right. However I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels that way about a former employer.


Evil HR Lady February 13, 2013 at 1:02 pm

It is true that companies behave badly and then get all shocked when their employees do too!

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone was honest?


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