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Ethics in who you work for

npsimons (32752) writes | more than 3 years ago

User Journal 4

Let's say you were approached to work for a big name company who is working on a lot of really amazing high tech products. Their current employees seem intelligent, motivated, friendly and happy to work there. The work environment looks sweet. The only thing making you have second thoughts is that some of their actions (such as pushing for lower corporate taxes) don't exactly mesh with your ethics. Sure, they're not anti-competitive; they even do a lot of open source; but more than a few of t

Let's say you were approached to work for a big name company who is working on a lot of really amazing high tech products. Their current employees seem intelligent, motivated, friendly and happy to work there. The work environment looks sweet. The only thing making you have second thoughts is that some of their actions (such as pushing for lower corporate taxes) don't exactly mesh with your ethics. Sure, they're not anti-competitive; they even do a lot of open source; but more than a few of their actions have come under fire as unethical. Would you work for them? Would an employment boycott be effective?

Just for the record, no, I have not received an offer yet; I don't presume that I'm a shoe-in (they have a very high false positive rate). I'm putting this out early to get as many responses as I can. I currently work for the US DoD, which some would see as extremely unethical. If you can't figure out from what I've told you so far (and my comment history) which company this is, you probably shouldn't reply to this, but I'll take all the input I can get.

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the next right thing (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36427100)

You have to put your well-being and that of your family ahead of your ethics. It is possible to behave ethically while working for a firm that does thing with which you disagree. In some ways, working at all contributes to a repressive system, so there's almost no way you can maintain ethical purity and survive in a society that places profit before ethics.

I don't really blame corporations for pushing for lower taxes. Corporations are golems that only have one directive: to maximize quarterly profits. They are going to do what they do.

If you maintain your ethical standards in the things you do at work, in the way you treat others, in the way you behave honorably, you should not feel that you are bound to turn down a job because the official corporate line is counter to your political beliefs. It's not like you are working for a tobacco company or something.

Also, you should not be ashamed working for the DoD. There are many honorable people who work there and it does much that is necessary. Again, as long as you hold to your own standards, you can hold your head up. It's not like being a member of a dictator's death squad. In fact, I think the DoD, while still involved in a lot of questionable things, along with the military generally has shown some progress as a culture. Sec'y Gates has been pretty decent, I think compared to some of the possibilities in the other direction. While there's a lot of profiteering and contracting shenanigans, I believe the DoD and parts of the intelligence community are still on our side, at least currently. It feels funny to say that considering my own political views, but still that's how I feel.

Good luck. Trust your instincts.

Re:the next right thing (1)

npsimons (32752) | more than 3 years ago | (#36432516)

This was an excellent comment, and I hate to give it short shrift, but unfortunately other things intrude (packing for a funeral is never fun), so I'll get to the meat:

Good luck. Trust your instincts.

My instincts say yes! I want to work for this company so much, it's outshining all the bad I can think of. Perhaps I'm having grass is greener syndrome, but to be able to work for a company that is built on Linux? That would put me in control of what's on my dev workstation? How could I say no? Even looking at this more pragmatically, working for this company will put me in contact with tons of really smart people on a daily basis, working on tons of really cool projects. Even looking at this greedily, it will look really good on the resume. But honestly, I feel this is a really good move for me, and I thank you for the encouragement. I'm really hoping they call back with a job offer! After that, the hurdle will be convincing the wife.

Re:the next right thing (1)

slothman32 (629113) | more than 3 years ago | (#36470246)

Sorry family, I can't get a job because all businesses do bad things.
I assume you are alright with the fact that I don't want to work for Microsoft(I don't mean that company is doing that, I just wanted an example) because they are funding the enemies of Germany.

The problem with your idea is that companies can do all the bad things they want and still get employees.
If more people do start employer-boycott then maybe the "bad" companies will start to do good things like not do business in enemy countries.

To use a 1984 example:
My theory of why the people, like the protagonist, work for a bad gov't is they they need money to live.
Maybe being homeless and keeping your ideals is better than working for a company that does bad things.

Re:the next right thing (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36473242)

Maybe being homeless and keeping your ideals is better than working for a company that does bad things.

Explain that to your children.

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