A DBA’s Ethics T-SQL Tuesday #30

TSQL2sDay150x150This month Chris Shaw (blog|twitter) brings to us a deep topic for T-SQL Tuesday. He’s asking us to talk about DBA Ethics, you don’t have to be a DBA just a SQL Professional. Thanks Chris for hosting and getting us thinking.

So here we are at another fine T-SQL Tuesday. When Kerry mentioned that he was going to get busy and write last night I asked him what the topic was and he said “DBA Ethics”. From there my mind went crazy thinking about Ethics, how many times I have had mine challenged and what all of this would mean. He stayed up late and worked on his blog post while I was fast asleep next to him.

So when I got in the car this morning I was thinking about how ethics had been different depending on the role I have had with data. WHOA did that almost stop the car. You see Kerry lives in a world of black and white and something like ethics is the same across the board. He then asked for an explanation.
First as a data analyst I have been asked to pull data and provide it to an end user. No big deal, but there have been many times that I have been told without a doubt that the data was going to be manipulated to say what the business wanted and that what I provided didn’t matter. Now this never made sense to me, why waste my time just make shit up and leave me out of it. But from an ethical stand point I have nothing to say or do here, I mean really I can’t control this and in most cases I would never know it this has happened or not. But in the case of where you ask me to manipulate data for you I draw the line, I am not comfortable making up information for you to provide to someone else. This makes me wonder what would have happened during a particular situation a year and a half ago. I was asked to manipulate data in an out bound file to a 3rd part vendor responsible for paying customers rebates. There was something implemented poorly and data was not getting correctly placed in the database. Lucky for me my boss threw a fit and said NO! Here we are 1.5 – 2 years later and that file is still being manually messed with, you know instead of spending ~20 hours of resource time to fix it properly. What would have happened if the boss said “Yeah, she’ll do it”? I am 100% certain that I would have had 2 choices, do it or quit/be fired for insubordination.

As I have become comfortable in my new role as a Database Engineer I am beginning to see that the Ethics lines are different here. My role is to push back if I see something glaring wrong, or something that I know has a legal ramification. But there is also a point of blind trust in knowing that by the time a request gets to me it’s been past enough eyes that it should be OK. But is that the case? Would the business jump the gun and put in work request without running things through our legal department? Where do I draw the line now?

Really I have a new set of Ethics, OK it isn’t a new set it is just I can push for these ethics to be followed. Don’t laugh, but I feel that I have an ethical responsibility to do what is right for my database and server that it lives on. I need to respect them and treat them properly or else cause issues down the road. Why this happens in my current position is due to growth, lack of staff and being unable to specialize in 1 piece of our giant puzzle. We really do more things here than most companies. So when a DBA approving my release looks at the check list and tells me I need an index because the query optimizer says so, I have an ethical responsibility to research this and see if it is really true. Armed with data I start pushing back and figure out ways to get this fixed for everyone. This is just one small example but I believe you get what I mean.

So let’s not talk about work anymore, lets talk about what I feel is my ethical obligation to my community. I feel whole-heartedly that if I can help someone I should. I feel that I need to pay it forward because I didn’t get here alone. In every one of my training sessions on SSRS I spoke of our SQL community, I talked about paying it forward and I did it with passion. I understand that there are times where you will be unprepared and unable to walk off a job because of ethics, but I do believe that as part of this family, #sqlfamily, everyone should think about how their words and actions will impact others. With your words you could break someone’s dreams, with your words you could inspire many, with your words an entire world could gain or lose respect for you.

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