Look at this informative and well written article here
I've always liked Wired for such articles and got to this one via news.com. Though I used to feel that programming could not be considered "real" engineering (early in my career), that distinction is blurred in applications such as the ones listed in the above link. That necessitated the ACM and the IEEE Computer Society to come up with a software engineering code of ethics which you can read here.
Because errors in programming were not causing large scale mishaps, buggy code was (and still is) mostly tolerated as a nuisance. But this article makes you rethink that notion. The code of ethics is a welcome step in that area, though I don't see that being followed religiously. (Do doctors follow the Hippocratic oath?). Yet, this code of ethics, done in 1999, is a welcome step in that area that exhorts software engineers to give their profession due importance not from just a monetary point of view but also as a responsibility they have towards their organizations and to society at large.
Is there any company/organization that kind of mandates its employees to follow the software engineering code of ethics?