Fostering Ethically Mature Organizations: Part 2 of 4
In the first part of this series, we talked about why ethics needs to be core to UX research in corporate tech. The goal of user researchers is to advocate for user needs and craft better experiences — which ultimately increases a corporation’s profit. To carry out our work and that of our company, ethics needs to be central to our employers’ practices, not just ours.
As we discussed in Part One, ethical research somehow seems to be at odds with corporate goals, which can at times mean profit > people. For this reason, ethics and a team supporting the infrastructure for ethics to grow and thrive tend to be an afterthought.
This underscores ethical maturity, or how well a corporate institution understands, nurtures, and grows ethical practices.
Ethics Violations in Human Research throughout History
Ethics are commonly viewed as norms for conduct and how we determine right from wrong. In human research, these ethics are the guidelines under which we evaluate our work and how it affects people.
Ethics review boards are established to evaluate the ethics of a research protocol. While not comprehensive, below is a list of ethics violations that led to ethical guidelines such as those established in the Belmont Report.
Please note that reading through these examples will cause discomfort and unease.
- 1846: Gynecological procedures tested on enslaved women without anesthetic
- 1932: Start of the Tuskegee experiments withholding established syphilis treatments from black men
- 1939: Nuremberg atrocities committed during WWII
- 1939: Unit 731 illegal testing of chemical and biological weapons on civilians
- 1990s: Costa Rica used as an unregulated pharmaceutical testing ground for infant and children treatments
- 2005: Private institutions are beneficiaries of amassing the world’s largest bank of indigenous blood and database of human origins and migration, all at the expense of indigenous peoples
- 2015: Ethnographer refuses to provide crucial information in search for murderer and potentially engaged in illegal activities under the guise of “research”
It’s Beyond Time to put Ethics at the Core of UX Research: Part 1 of 4
Coauthor: Lexi Neigel, PhD
UX researchers can shape an entire career around evaluating different aspects of a product to ensure it’s something that people actually want to use. Thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are all analyzed to discover which steps and processes could be reduced or even eliminated to improve overall experience. To that end, user researchers could really be viewed as customer success strategists.
Pillars of Customer Success
Coauthors: Kayla McVey and Paula Bach
The user research spectrum stretches from foundational to tactical work. In general, researchers are highly skilled at collecting and analyzing different types of data at one or both ends of this spectrum. They turn research findings into actionable insights and help partners across their company experience the customer’s journey in their own words. More importantly, though, they are the champions for customer success.