Confidentiality in the Workplace

Understanding Your Obligations

Make sure that you protect confidential information.

© iStockphoto/DNY59

Laura recently learned that her long-term client, Jim, is retiring. She was quite surprised, as the company he manages is launching a new business initiative, and she thought he would surely want to lead it through this exciting time.

Unfortunately, Laura then shared this information with another client, who happened to be an investor in Jim's company. The investor promptly backed out of his investment, sending Jim's company into a tailspin.

This is an example of how damaging breaches of workplace confidentiality can be – both for the organization you work for, and for your own career. That's why it's important that you know what your obligations are when it comes to workplace confidentiality.

But what actually constitutes confidential information? And how can you ensure that you don't breach confidentiality? We'll answer these questions, and more, in this article.

What is Confidential Information?

Confidential information is information that needs to be restricted to authorized people only.

In the course of your job, you may come across a lot of confidential information. For instance, you might know sensitive information about your organization, such as its future plans, expected revenues, or the "trade secrets" that give it a competitive edge in the marketplace. You might also know similar information about your clients.

As well as this, you may come across confidential customer information like credit card numbers, bank details, or medical information.

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