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Software Engineers Report Challenges in Workplace Ethics and Practices, Study Finds

Intimidation of whistleblower concept and whistle blower stress symbol representing the pressure experienced for  exposing corruption with shadows of people who do not follw the rules as a red whistle shaped as a human head.

A new investigation reveals significant challenges faced by software engineers in the workplace, including retaliation for reporting misconduct and the use of gagging clauses in severance agreements, despite regulatory prohibitions. 

The study brings to light the complex issues impacting software engineers and the broader implications for computer systems relied upon by society, according to its author Dr. Junade Ali CEng FIET.

According to research by Survation, 53% of software engineers have suspected wrongdoing at their place of work. Among those who reported such issues, 75% experienced retaliation. The primary deterrents for not reporting unethical behavior were fear of retaliation from management (59%) and colleagues (44%).

The investigation also uncovered the continued use of gagging clauses in financial institutions, contravening Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulations established in 2016. This includes a settlement agreement between Worldpay and BT CEO, Philip Jansen, which includes a clause potentially violating FCA rules.

Researchers Say There Are Insufficient Protections For Engineers

Dr. Junade Ali CEng FIET, Principal Investigator, commented:

“Recent developments highlight the critical need for software engineers to be able to raise concerns about potential wrongdoing without fear. Our study reveals that there are insufficient protections for engineers in these situations. From retaliation against engineers who speak out to the use of prohibited gagging clauses and industry-standard metrics not aligning with public expectations, our findings point to significant and systemic issues that have wide-reaching consequences, given the central role of computers in our lives. This investigation underscores the importance of addressing these problems proactively, rather than letting them escalate.”