Technical Communication Ethics – A Guide to Ethical Principles in Technical Communications
Honesty is the ethical principle that technical writers should adhere to and promote. It is the responsibility of the technical writer to give truthful and accurate information. The writer should not omit pertinent information that would change the audience perception of the information they are receiving.In technical writing it is important to not over emphasize or under emphasize facts to persuade a reader or an audience. An example of this is omitting losses in earnings charts. By omitting the information on years where the company did not realize profits, they could persuade investments that would not have been made if the facts were all present for review.. Honesty in technical writing is important to other ethical principles such as, legal and professional ethics. A technical writer has the obligation to research the laws both nationally and internationally and abide by those laws. Furthermore, a technical writer needs to understand moral ethics whether legal or not and communicate the information appropriately.
Confidentiality is one ethical principle that should be a guide in technical communications. To divulge trade secrets, formulas and confidential information about a company and its practices is unethical as long as the company is acting within moral and ethical boundaries and may also present legal issues.
The basic understanding of ethical principles help employees think about dilemmas on the job and make right decisions. Wherever the initiative comes, from you or higher instances, dishonesty is always a lie. When the employee is pressed to hide negative information or mislead by exaggerating or communicating the information in a way the product sounds better than it is, this leads to an unethical behavior.
A technical communicator has the obligation to help his organization treat its customers fairly, by providing safe and effective products or services. Fairness mean avoiding conflicts of interests that fit your own goals which are against the company ones. It is also required to treat people equally regardless of their sex. religion, ethnicity, race, physical or mental ability.