I've been reading through the newest version of the code of conduct of the company I work for, and I've been weighing each rule against my Buddhist ethics, and it has brought up some interesting questions for me.
One thing the code of conduct says is that if one witnesses something improper, and does not report it, that constitutes a violation. I think, for most serious offenses this is in line with the Buddha's teachings (for example, sexual harassment, violence, etc). But for certain other offenses, it's not very clear to me whether reporting them would be considered divisive speech, i.e. wrong speech.
The Buddha defines unskillful verbal action, in part, thusly:
What he has heard here he tells there to break those people apart from these people here. What he has heard there he tells here to break these people apart from those people there. Thus breaking apart those who are united and stirring up strife between those who have broken apart, he loves factionalism, delights in factionalism, enjoys factionalism, speaks things that create factionalism.
So, two questions pertaining to two very concrete examples:
- Suppose one witnesses corruption. If one reports it to the police, is that considered divisive speech? Could it be said that one is setting up the police against the perpetrator?
- Suppose someone confides in one about a relationship in the workplace (not disallowed by the code of conduct, unless it goes unreported). Could it be considered divisive speech if one reports the relationship to the company's ethics body?