I've been mulling this post over in my head for a few weeks and I'm going to attempt to do this in such a way as to not publically call out the people I'm about to write about, but WHAT IN THE WORLD HAPPENED TO BUSINESS ETHICS? I recently received a call from a friend who works at my organization asking for my help with a project. She asked me for a write up on an event we put on in the fall. I was getting ready to leave the office and told her I could send her something I had composed in November 2012 about the event for a report which was needed by the state. I forwarded the spreadsheet to her and received a return call back almost immediately. She asked me if the report I sent her was from "someone else" (not providing the names or job titles, to protect the not-so-innocents). I told her that the report I sent her was MY work and that the other person wanted to change a couple of words in two sentences and I indicated I didn't have a problem with that. Now my friend tells me that "someone else" had claimed the report was their own work product. My response was "you've got to be kidding." I told my friend I thought it would be odd for said person to claim the report as their own since they weren't not involved in the event. I provided information and statistics in this report, which I indicated could have only come from the report I sent back in November.
Fast forward to February 2013. Someone in my office received an email from someone in senior management with a write up attached, indicating it was going to be in a brochure which was going to be published. The email was shared with me and as I read the write-up, I started shaking my head and immediately went to my computer to print out the report I provided to "someone else" back in November. Lo and behold, more than 50% of the write-up is taken from the report I provided back in November - using my exact words verbatim. Another 25% of the write-up is taken from statistics that were in the report previously, with some minor tweaking of the text. Imagine my surprise to learn that two people are now taking credit for my work product and don't have the decency to contact me to ask if it was okay to do this (I really didn't think it was necessary for me to copywrite my own words).
What did I learn from this experience? Going forward, I'm fairly certain that I won't trust what either of these people do. When I look at their previous work products, I wonder how much of it is original and how much has been "borrowed" from other people's work? Will I provide as in-depth a work product going forward - probably, because when asked to do something, I do it in a professional manner, providing accurate information. Do I feel that next year, when this report is needed again, the same thing will happen? Yes, I think the model for plagiarism has been established. I do know that my friend who originally requested my help stated to the two people involved that she knew the original information came from me. Not that this will matter going forward. It is my belief that these two people will continue to "borrow" other people's work products and take credit for it. As I contemplate retirement in a few short years, I'm discouraged about the lack of ethics in the work place. The longer I work, the more I observe the disappearance of the work ethic. There are so many people in our organization who take their jobs seriously, and provide great customer service to the public as well as their fellow employees. Then there are the others, who only work for the paycheck and don't care about choice and accountability. These are the people that give our organization a bad name. Hoping I see more positive changes in the next few years (although I'm having my doubts right about now).