Biting the hand that feeds you

Executive search consultants are a hungry group. The Code of Ethics set by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) is not always conscientiously adhered to. One day, Chief Engineer Ken Altshuler appeared at his boss' desk.
By Raymond Dreyfack December 1, 1999

Executive search consultants are a hungry group. The Code of Ethics set by the Association of Executive Search Consultants (AESC) is not always conscientiously adhered to.

One day, Chief Engineer Ken Altshuler appeared at his boss’ desk. “I just got a call from a head hunter at an executive search firm sounding me out about an opening at ABZ Electronics. Asked me to keep it on the QT, just between the two of us.”

Plant Engineer George Vesey played it cool with a chuckle. He held out his hand. “Congratulations, Ken, it’s been nice knowing you.”

“Are you kidding? I have no intention of leaving. The only reason I’m telling you this is that ABZ is one of our chief competitors.”

“Don’t I know. What’s the name of the search firm?”

Altshuler named the firm.

Vesey frowned. “Hey, that’s the outfit we do business with. In fact, we were about to call on them to help us find a production manager.”

Altshuler frowned. “Isn’t that illegal or something, working for us and at the same time trying to pirate our people for a major competitor?”

“I don’t think it’s illegal, but it’s certainly unethical. In fact, it’s less than 1-yr ago that we shelled out a fat fee for finding us a plant manager when Bill Daley took early retirement.”

Altshuler shrugged. “I thought you should know.”

“I thank you kindly.”

Question: In Vesey’s place, what action, if any, would you take?

Plant engineer’s action: Vesey stopped by General Manager Frank Wilke’s office and passed along the information.

Wilke shook his head at the news. “Some of those guys will do anything for a buck. According to the off-limits policy, they’re not supposed to recruit anyone from a client organization for a period of at least 1-yr after completion of an engagement. They’re as dumb as they are unethical to have contacted Ken at this time. Far as I’m concerned, that outfit is no longer working with us.”

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