I am employed in a mid-sized multi-national software company with 500-1000 employees. In our company, we have several employee organizations (clubs) of different natures (e.g. basketball, swimming, yoga etc). I am currently heading one of the clubs catering to IT Enthusiasts, everything about the IT industry. (Our club is named IT Enthusiasts' Club) Clubs are funded by the company according to the number of member employees. It is a common practice to promote the events a club is organizing via company-wide emails and announcements.

In our club, we discuss different technologies, processes and current trends in the IT industry. We also have our own trainings and with our funds, we procure learning materials (books and epubs) for our members. Our club joins different events related to Software and IT in general. One of the said events we want to join is Startup Weekend. Startup Weekend in gist is:

Startup Weekends are weekend-long, hands-on experiences where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can find out if startup ideas are viable. On average, half of Startup Weekend’s attendees have technical or design backgrounds, the other half have business backgrounds. (Excerpt from: http://startupweekend.org/about/)

My question is, given the above scenario, is it ethical for me, the club's head to promote the said event in the company? Initially, I think that the management may see it as a disloyalty to the company knowing that events like these can lose them valuable employees. These kinds of events also introduce employees to other employers and companies. I'll try asking this to my boss sometime, but I would also like to know if there is a general rule regarding this.

  • Its a very specific topic to expect to have a general rule about – Rhys Apr 15 '13 at 12:40
  • How is it very specific, @RhysW? Also, is it ethical for that matter? – nmenego Apr 15 '13 at 12:43
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    By specific i mean a small group its likely to affect. How often do you think there are companies, that push internal groups, of which some are attempting to attend start ups on weekends? Im not saying its a bad question, just explaining that its a very small topic to expect a general rule to have been created for exactly this scenario – Rhys Apr 15 '13 at 12:46
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    I created an answer because that is really the only answer I believe there is to this or similar questions. I have voted to close this as to localized but the ethics in this case are really off topic as well. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 15 '13 at 13:02

The ethical standards are generally defined by the individual company. Your company probably has a policy regarding this. You should probably contact your HR or Legal team regarding the policies, and whether the event that you want to promote is acceptable by their standards.

It is completely possible that it would be permissible to post the event on a shared information board but not acceptable to email the company. It is also possible that the company would like to back the event completely and will send the email out officially. Or they could have a competing interest and desire that no soliciting or promotion of the event happen using company resources or on company time. The only way to find out is to ask your company what their position is.

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    I seriously doubt any company would like people advertising for (potential) competitors on its internal network... – jwenting Apr 16 '13 at 6:18
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    @jwenting - You do not know it is a competitor. But I also covered that in the answer where I said Or they could have a competing interest and desire that no soliciting or promotion of the event happen using company resources or on company time. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 16 '13 at 11:02
  • given that it's employees talking about work related issues, and they're talking about startups they're connected with, it's highly likely those startups have directly similar interests to the current employer... – jwenting Apr 16 '13 at 11:14
  • @jwenting - I do not disagree but you can not assume that is the case. It is covered in the answer I am not certain what your comment is intended to achieve other than chattiness. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 16 '13 at 12:21

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