I won't give you the money, even though you may give me some money in the future, honest
June 4, 2012 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Conflict-of-interest-filter: I work for X as a consultant. One of our roles is advising a client A how much they should pay Y. Recently the consultant arm of Y has approached me about potentially working for them in the future. I am genuinely interested in the job and have satisfied myself that I could consider this without affecting my judgement in advising client A, but am concerned about how it could look to outsiders. Advice?

More details:

-I work as part of a wider team advising client A, not just on my own,

-I am generally very thorough in keeping my notes in case anything untoward was ever suggested so that I could prove otherwise, but would prefer it not to come to that!

-The approach from Y is still at an early stage, no concrete offer, but has been indicated an offer would be substantially above my current pay with firm X

-Given the early stage I am not particularly keen to mention it explicitly yet to my current firm X or client Y

Thank you!

(Anonymous as it would be very clear to anyone who knows me who Y is)
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (2 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Declare the potential conflict of interest to the hiring people at Y. Tell them that, unless and until you receive the concrete offer, you cannot discuss further with them. I would do this through e-mail to have some kind of documentation. While you have the initial offer from Y, abstain from making any decisions regarding how A compensate Y while you consider or negotiate it.
posted by IanMorr at 8:44 AM on June 4, 2012

If you have input into how much Client A should pay Y (or other negotiations with Y), I can tell you as an outsider that I assume the possibility of a lucrative job offer from Y does affect your judgment. It's like the no-friend-links thing on the Metafilter front page -- you may be pretty sure that you would have done the same thing without the conflict of interest, but it's impossible for you to know, let alone for anyone else to know.

I know you said it doesn't affect your judgment, and I'm not calling you a liar. I'm just saying if there's a true conflict of interest, then by definition you'll never be able to prove it doesn't affect your judgment, and the totally reasonable assumption will be that it does, which means you'll never be able to prove you kept your ethical obligations to Client A.

I think your best options ethics-wise are to ask not to work on business between Client A and Y for some other plausible reason ("I'd love to be transferred to the Z account!"), or let a particular boss you trust in on what's going on so they can help you avoid the conflict, or get clarity from Y as soon as possible. It's a pain, but just decide right now to be someone who puts unimpeachable ethics above the possibility of a whole bunch of money, and figure things out from there.
posted by Honorable John at 12:08 PM on June 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

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