12 min

The Ethics of the Side Hustle – Moonlighting and Conscience The ClientPipe Podcast

    • Careers

Daniel DiGriz: So we’re here today to talk about whether or not it’s unethical or at least ethically dubious to work on the side when you have an employer, especially if you don’t tell your employer. And Steve, I believe that you have a thing or two to say about that.

Steve Pruneau: Since today’s all about the ethics of the side hustle or what used to be called moonlighting, brought me back to the TV show. It really got me thinking about what is it that has this lingering feeling in many of us of, we should be loyal to, we should commit to, the company. Where did it start? And I think a lot of it starts in the interview with questions that sort of probe around what kind of personal sacrifice can you make? How dedicated will you be? For example, scheduling, travel, after hours work, all the things related to, what am I going to commit? What can you do for Steve? So somehow the socialization starts early.

Daniel DiGriz: Yeah, I remember when I was a younger man and I got tired of doing job interviews. They always felt like I was going somewhere with my hat in my hand, and so I started going into places and when they would ask why I’m there I would say, “I’m interviewing companies I’d like to work with, I’m here to conduct an interview.” It’s funny, actually. I got a position that way that lasted a while. They even created a job for me because they thought it was audacious and they were honored that I wanted to work there. I was like, “Yeah, this is great.” So it works. Flip the script on them. But the assumption is, no, of course we’re an impenetrable fortress and you take your hat off, come in with your application, and it starts the process. It’s the beginning when we become excessively loyal.

Steve Pruneau: Yeah. In my opinion, it goes way back to the fifties. The age of the organization man, which is William White’s book written in 1956, talking about the commitment that people make of themselves to the company. But that was at a time when we had economic expansion, long product life cycles, you could have a long run of a career, and even had pensions. So yeah, it comes from that, I think, and all those things that you talked about, the impenetrable fortress, the concepts of what can you do for us?

Daniel DiGriz: I like White’s book, The Organization Man. It kind of asserts that we assume that collectives make better decisions than individuals do, and therefore we tend to prioritize the advancement of the organization over the advancement of the individual and his or her own creativity. That becomes the source of loyalty. If that assumption is not true, if it’s not true that collectives make better decisions than individuals, and that certainly is being called into question today, then it’s not true. Then it’s certainly not unethical to shift the balance a little bit.

I want to say that not only do we see sort of the growth of flat hierarchies in corporations, and the realization that more management and more organization doesn’t make it better, but even the military, the most hierarchal traditional organization on the planet, is finding this out. General Stanley McChrystal, during the Iraq War, he wrote this book that talks about the fact that our sort of traditional hierarchy of control actually hindered the conduct of our American operations. Al Qaeda would disrupt the organized American military and win, so the solution was decentralize the authority down to highly trained individuals and teams. Again, that’s sort of what made us effective. So again, this assumption that the collectives are better at decisions comes from the same time when, okay, we could accept that assumption just because, in fact, we do get all of the benefits and support of, like the military, of the corporate organizations supporting us. We got the pension and we got the long term forty ...

Daniel DiGriz: So we’re here today to talk about whether or not it’s unethical or at least ethically dubious to work on the side when you have an employer, especially if you don’t tell your employer. And Steve, I believe that you have a thing or two to say about that.

Steve Pruneau: Since today’s all about the ethics of the side hustle or what used to be called moonlighting, brought me back to the TV show. It really got me thinking about what is it that has this lingering feeling in many of us of, we should be loyal to, we should commit to, the company. Where did it start? And I think a lot of it starts in the interview with questions that sort of probe around what kind of personal sacrifice can you make? How dedicated will you be? For example, scheduling, travel, after hours work, all the things related to, what am I going to commit? What can you do for Steve? So somehow the socialization starts early.

Daniel DiGriz: Yeah, I remember when I was a younger man and I got tired of doing job interviews. They always felt like I was going somewhere with my hat in my hand, and so I started going into places and when they would ask why I’m there I would say, “I’m interviewing companies I’d like to work with, I’m here to conduct an interview.” It’s funny, actually. I got a position that way that lasted a while. They even created a job for me because they thought it was audacious and they were honored that I wanted to work there. I was like, “Yeah, this is great.” So it works. Flip the script on them. But the assumption is, no, of course we’re an impenetrable fortress and you take your hat off, come in with your application, and it starts the process. It’s the beginning when we become excessively loyal.

Steve Pruneau: Yeah. In my opinion, it goes way back to the fifties. The age of the organization man, which is William White’s book written in 1956, talking about the commitment that people make of themselves to the company. But that was at a time when we had economic expansion, long product life cycles, you could have a long run of a career, and even had pensions. So yeah, it comes from that, I think, and all those things that you talked about, the impenetrable fortress, the concepts of what can you do for us?

Daniel DiGriz: I like White’s book, The Organization Man. It kind of asserts that we assume that collectives make better decisions than individuals do, and therefore we tend to prioritize the advancement of the organization over the advancement of the individual and his or her own creativity. That becomes the source of loyalty. If that assumption is not true, if it’s not true that collectives make better decisions than individuals, and that certainly is being called into question today, then it’s not true. Then it’s certainly not unethical to shift the balance a little bit.

I want to say that not only do we see sort of the growth of flat hierarchies in corporations, and the realization that more management and more organization doesn’t make it better, but even the military, the most hierarchal traditional organization on the planet, is finding this out. General Stanley McChrystal, during the Iraq War, he wrote this book that talks about the fact that our sort of traditional hierarchy of control actually hindered the conduct of our American operations. Al Qaeda would disrupt the organized American military and win, so the solution was decentralize the authority down to highly trained individuals and teams. Again, that’s sort of what made us effective. So again, this assumption that the collectives are better at decisions comes from the same time when, okay, we could accept that assumption just because, in fact, we do get all of the benefits and support of, like the military, of the corporate organizations supporting us. We got the pension and we got the long term forty ...

12 min

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