Idiotic Corporate Ethics Training

My company recently got bought by a big corporation and they made us take an online ethics training course. We are an engineering firm doing business with the government. I got to spend an hour of my time on this, charged to you the taxpayer at outlandish rates.

Since you paid for this training, I thought you might like to see a sample question and the “right” answer. These are exact transcriptions.

Q: An 18-year-old actor who appears to be no more than 15 is shown reaching for a whole grain breakfast bar as she runs out the door holding a cell phone to her ear. A woman who appears to be her mother comments, “teen-essentials include more than talking at the speed of light.” This ad is not likely to be effective, but is [it] ethically acceptable[?]

A: While the teenager appears to be younger than her actual age, this fact is irrelevant if the product is appropriate for fifteen year olds. While it would be better to have a more substantial sit down breakfast, this ad is very likely within the zone of ethically acceptable. It contains true information and it is better for the teenager to eat a whole-grain bar than to skip breakfast.

It seems to me that anyone who does not know the difference between a nutrition question and an ethics question has no business selling an ethics training course.

Our company has a (physical) bulletin board where employees may anonymously post anything within the bounds of good taste. I’d like to tack up my screencap of this question with some suitable snark, but couldn’t come up with any offhand. Feel free to take your best shot. I’ve been toying with the outer limits of good taste on the bulletin board and would welcome any contributions that might help me push the envelope.


Wait until you’ve been in a big coorporation for several years and minor things like this will just fade to the background with all the other coroporate noise that “the powers that be” dream up for you to waste your time on. I’ve taken the ethics class every year for 12 years, its never changed but apparently everyone is issued a 12 month memory. There are a total of 19 required classes I take every year. None of them ever change. Somehow a glitch made me flunk the ergonomics course this year, now I guess i don’t know how to sit in a chair.

How’s this?

You should see the sexual harassment awareness course that my company makes us take every couple of years. The material never changes, so it’s funny every year.

There’s something about an island god in it. We laugh at it, and then go back to being what we are - a bunch of computer geeks. People regularly meatspin each other in my office.

I think HR would implode if they ever saw what really happens when computer geeks are working.

Maybe I’m unusually dense at the moment since I skipped my afternoon nap, but I don’t understand what ethics has to do with anything in this “ad”. Is the point whether or not it’s ethical to advertise nutrition bars as a substitute for breakfast (something I did regularly when I was working, since I didn’t have time for anything else)?

That fucking owns. It’s going on the board tomorrow.


Actually, I’m going to take it to another level. We have a table where people put donuts, bagels and other stuff they want to share with the office. I’m bringing a box of breakfast bars and putting an APPROVED sign on them.


You were so busy that you advertised nutrition bars?

The fiend!

Of course not. The point is whether it’s ethical for a corporate training service to charge vast quantities of money to produce an entirely meaningless online course, so that corporations can claim to have provided training that complies with federal law?

A. Of course it is PERFECTLY ETHICAL. Why did you even need to think about this question? Mark yourself down for another ethics course, hooligan.

Hey, I had to do something while I was sitting at my desk. I was a federal employee; surely you didn’t think I’d be working?

It’s worse than you think; my job was writing ethics training courses.

Please clarify. With diagrams.

Is meatspin anything like shooting the shit?

You could google it and find out.

No, don’t. Especially not at work. It’s kind of like a Rickroll, but really, really not.

Working at a large banking company, we had to take several similar courses each year. And we had to waste more time filling out an evaluation form after each one. (Don’t know why, they never changed anything in the course.)

A fellow worker figured out a time-saver for this: he filled out an evaluation form with suitable generic answers, leaving only the course name & date blank, xeroxed many copies, and brought one with to each such course.

An evaluation form looks a bit odd when it says:

It probably would have gone unnoticed, except we were the computer systems designers for the HR department, dealing with them on a daily basis. They were the ones who got these forms, and happened to recognize his name on this one. They had great fun calling him about this, and didn’t let him live it down for months. A year later, when we had to go through the identical course once again, they called to make sure he would be attending, to improve his ‘sexual harassment skills’.

We were always having training courses where I used to work, and a lot of them consisted mostly of the instructor passing out information sheets and then reading them to us. After all of them we were requested to fill out evaluation sheets to give the training department feedback on how effective the instructor was, how relevant the material was to our jobs, etc. Since the evaluations were anonymous, after a while I started saying things like “Since I’ve been able to read for XX years, it isn’t necessary to have things read to me” and “This class was a waste of time which could have been better spent doing the work I’m being paid to do”

I have a low bullshit threshold, and hate having my time wasted by it.

We have these bullshit training courses too. I work at a financial printing company, we have a course for insider trading, good thing t-bonham’s friend doesn’t work here.
I’m guessing that the ethics training course was a generic one for all industries. Obviously it was a trick question. (nice work A. I. Wintermute!)

When I was working at an oil company, we had the drugs and heavy equipment test, which was funny, since the heaviest equipment I ever got near was a printer.

The questions were on the order of “You should get stoned and fool around with a drilling rig…”

a) Sometimes
b) Only if you know what you’re doing
c) Only if your buddies will think it’s funny
d) Never

The funniest part was that you could click the wrong answer and see a picture of a big ass disaster. On one picture, they had a generic work truck in a ditch, but they put the company name on the truck with photoshop. I hate to think about how much that shit cost us.

(This test was almost as funny as my buddy who actually worked on rigs earning a $10 gift card for being safe, as if having all your fingers when you clock out isn’t reward enough)