toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

April 07, 2008

ethics v. desperation

Jaime thinks that it’s very important in preparing for a job search to examine your values and how you would feel about working for certain companies or industries, because to accept any old job in desperation could end up making you feel miserable.

“There are many people who have no moral dilemma working for potentially harmful companies,” says Jaime, “but I feel there are many more who are forced to work for such companies against their principles because they are desperate for a job – and this is so wrong.”

"I feel that when we are searching for jobs we often place far too much emphasis on money, location and hours," says Jaime. "Instead, we need to start looking very closely at the ethics and values of our prospective employers. We need to find an employer whose values and ethics match ours.”

“For instance, if you don't smoke, and feel very strongly about the evils of tobacco, would you work for a tobacco company?" says Jaime. "Probably not if you had other alternatives, but what if the tobacco company was the only employment available to you?"

"What if you were offered work by a bank that was ripping off disadvantaged groups by charging exorbitant fees? Would you go home and sleep well at nights, or would you feel uneasy about being part of such an organization?"

"I would be ashamed to earn heaps from a prestigious firm that the rest of the world hates because it is harming its workers with dangerous materials, polluting the atmosphere or the seas, monopolizing industry, ripping off the poor or leading children astray."

"I would prefer to be on a living wage but working for an organization that did good in the world," says Jaime, "but unfortunately I have yet to find a place for myself in such an organization."

Jaime wants to be proud of her job. She doesn’t want to be a party pariah. Of course, she accepts that there is no such thing as a totally bad company or organization. Someone must collect tax, drill for oil and bank our money; and it is not altogether wrong to want to be the biggest and the richest company in the world.

By maintaining her value system, Jaime is severely narrowing her employment prospects. Yet her argument is valid if for no other reason that by accepting a job from such a company she would feel insecure about her job. She would not feel confident that if the economy got rocky down the line that she would be retained rather than fired. She would feel uneasy every time the arrow on the profit chart tips downwards.

Read more about Jaime:

  • conflicting values
  • happy wife, happy life
  • ethical employer becomes greedy pig

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