Data and Ethics

- August 21, 2020

Week 6 Basic Excel and Analysis - How Ethics and Data go together

I realise this isn’t really excel or data analysis. I do think it is particularly important with in the data industry to know why and how Data and Ethics should come together. While at the core of our company is to be transparent – it would seem, this is not always the case.

What is Ethics?

Ethics - moral principles that govern a person's behaviour or the conducting of an activity.

Here’s why I think Ethics should be talked about a whole lot more.

A recent survey has suggested that on average people delete or ‘unsubscribe’ from up to 39 emails per month they are sure they have not signed up to. I know for sure I would have a similar number… there are hundreds of unread emails sitting in my junk mailbox. This suggests to me that many companies we interact with in our daily lives are quite happy selling our personal data to anyone who will pay for it.

What does this do to your company’s reputation and the loyalty of your customers? Right at this moment - not a lot. Most companies will not openly admit or state their intentions on the ‘subscribe’ page before you click the button. It is written in the fine print – but who has time to read all of that? They bank on this. There still seems to be a lot of ignorance within the general population that suggests they have never even given the subject much thought.

I had a recent conversation with a cyber security specialist, he suggests we need to protect ourselves – essentially because no one else will. His biggest concern is how our data is being stored and what has been implemented to keep it safe. I totally agree with everything he was saying, but I am also a bit of an optimist. Surely laws to protect everyone would be just another level of protection to prevent the misuse of people’s personal data.

The law hasn’t quite caught up, and I guess will always be on the back foot when it comes to technology. The tech industry moves at such a rate it would be impossible to have laws already in place before for all eventualities. I feel as a company it is incredibly important to implement high level of ethical standards regarding data from the very beginning.

The whole point of a company is to make money providing a service or product. It’s that simple. Everyone wants to make money the lines get blurred easily if this is a company’s sole target.  

Here are a few stats that I found interesting.

Only 20% of people surveyed were slightly concerned about their data being collected by companies but a whopping 70% said they were concerned about the government collecting their data. However, when asked what type of organisation they trusted the most with their data Government Bodies and Non-Profits scored the best with 40% each.

What does this mean? Possibly that we may not want the government learning our little secrets but trust that once they have it, we trust them not to use it. Kind of like a child and parent - you don’t really want your folks finding out what you've been up too, but you know they will love you anyway.

If you would like to read more about data and ethics there are a lot of interesting reads across the internet. I have included some good references, pod casts and books to get you started.

Another one of our Associate Instructors introduced to me incredibly interesting podcast called Blind Insights by David Olney. I advise checking both Mel and David out if you are in any way interested in a career with Data.

Mel O’Sullivan Author Page – Find all of Mel’s articles HERE.

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For more information about how Personal Data is being stored and how you can protect yourself go to the following sites.

Australian Privacy Foundation – Personal data https://privacy.org.au/resources/fundamentals/data-collection/#:~:text=Data%20Collection%20Privacy%20laws%20generally%20include%20a%20requirement,contain%20requests%20for%20personal%20data%20that%20is%20irrelevant.


Links to previous videos:

Week 1 – Cleaning Data

Week 2 – Merging Data and Pivot Tables

Week 3 – Averages and Percentages

Week 4 – Building a Report

Week 5 – Common Errors

Thanks for watching this 6-week series on Basic Excel and Analysis skills. If you have any questions, please get in touch. You can Book a Call with me or drop me an email.

Associate Instructor -Data
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