U05: Crisis Aspects and Ethics in the Workplace with Security Clearance Background Checks

To understand a crisis one must understand what a crisis is, it is a “critical event or point of decision which, if not handled in an appropriate and timely manner (or if not handled at all), may turn into a disaster or catastrophe” (PSU, 2018). In a crisis that needs ethical handling certain events occur: critical event, point of decision, appropriate, timely and catastrophe.

A critical event recently happened at my workplace that may impact other organizations that work with the federal government. A new security clearance was issued for a team of employees that were screened at a moderate level working on a critical project. The program changed its stance on the required screening level and it was decided that all employees working on the program to be screened at a high security level. A high level screening requires an employee to be an American citizen and without citizenship employees automatically are disqualified. To get federal security high clearance, “You must be a U.S. citizen to obtain a security clearance. You may be a naturalized citizen, but you can’t be an illegal immigrant or green card holder.” (Kyzer, 2017). As indicated in our modules this week, “Critical events draw out both our instrumental and terminal values to determine how we will react.” (PSU, 2018). The organization didn’t want to negatively impact  employees but had to comply with the new security clearance rules that were put in place.

This crisis stirred up issues of  multiculturalism as different cultures were merged with one another and various cultural values could come into conflict (PSU, 2018). Employees had different personal values about this situation that impacted what they felt was right or wrong and were influenced by their own cultural values. Employees that were of the same and opposite nationalities that did not have US Citizenship could feel inferior to those employees that had US Citizenship. The management team wanted all employees to feel appreciated and wanted to handle the situation carefully to make sure that employees felt valued and respected with the upcoming changes.

Within the crisis the point of decision had to be a quick as the program leaders were working with HR to revoke access from individuals that did not qualify for a high security clearance. Management worked with other internal teams that didn’t require high screening requirements and we were thankfully able to move employees around without having to make adjustments or layoffs. We did lose individuals that had application knowledge and are having to retrain employees to retool them to learn a new application when they were moved to other projects. This was an appropriate consequentialism response as the result of the decision was that we did not have to lay off any employees even if management didn’t agree that the positions required a high security clearance because these individuals had been working on this program for a year at the moderate screening level.  Consequentialism is based on two principles, whether an act is right or wrong depends only on the results of that act and the more good consequences an act produces, the better or more right that act (Ethics – Introduction to ethics: Consequentialism, 2014). Even if the increased security clearance level created issues of multiculturalism and a crisis, the results were positive as the organization was able to move employees around without having to make adjustments or layoffs.

The organization was committed to being flexible, keeping employees within the organization and communicated these changes in a larger team meeting. The communication within the team meeting described the security changes and how it impacted the programs that we support and how we will work with these changes if it happens to impact our other programs. With a highly diverse and multicultural team this feedback needed to be timely and showed the commitment from leadership to avoid crisis, consequentialism response, work thorough multicultural issues and crisis management with quick decision making for all impacted employees.


Ethics – Introduction to ethics: Consequentialism. (2014). Retrieved November 23, 2018, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/introduction/consequentialism_1.shtml

Kyzer, L. (2017, August 27). What Will Automatically Disqualify You From Getting a Security Clearance? Retrieved November 23, 2018, from https://news.clearancejobs.com/2017/08/24/will-automatically-disqualify-getting-security-clearance/

PSU (2018). PSY 533: Ethics and Leadership. Lesson 13. Retrieved from: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1913945/pages/l10-crisis-defined?module_item_id=25041906

PSU (2018). PSY 533: Ethics and Leadership. Lesson 13. Retrieved from: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1913945/pages/l12-multiculturalism?module_item_id=25041931

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar