toxic jobs

Personal stories about toxic jobs and workplace woes.

June 04, 2012

conflicting values

Jaime is 24, married with no children, and has been between jobs for fourteen months. Her husband, Grant, is happy to support her until she finds a new job but his income is pretty basic and they are doing without luxuries in order to keep out of debt.

“Most people are happy to take home a pay packet each week without questioning the ethics and values of the company they work for,” says Jaime, “but I have real problems working for a company that has a bad image, and because Grant supports me in everything I do, I can hang on until the right job comes up.”

"It may be not so much what the company produces that upsets me – tobacco or something like that – but how it goes about its business," says Jaime. "Real estate agents, lawyers and accountants - to name only a few professionals - can be very ruthless when dealing with clients who put their trust in them far too easily. And what about restaurants? Not all are run as hygienically as we would like to think they are."

"If, in my work environment, I see practices that border on fraud, or downright neglect of duty of care to clients, I don't want to end up suffering guilt for the rest of my life."

"By remaining in that employment I would be, in effect, party to what is going on," says Jaime, "and I may even end up in court as an accessory."

"Many people solve this dilemma by disassociating themselves from their employer or the goods it produces," explains Jaime. "They need the job and can always say: 'I was only following orders' if the company ever comes under public scrutiny. Some people may change their value system completely in order to resolve this conflict of values between what they believe and what they are doing at work."

Jaime constantly asks herself: "If I find myself in such a job, or being offered such a job, what will I do?"

She has very strong values and believes in the right to be a conscientious objector. Yet she appreciates that while nobody is forced to fight and kill others in wartime, to claim a conscientious objection against a job - because what it stands for conflicts with your ethics and values - is not generally acceptable as a valid reason to turn down a job.

"I would be branded a job snob or a loafer rather than a conscientious objector." laughs Jaime.

"Just about every company that has laid off thousands of workers over the years has given as an excuse for its behavior the fact that the company could not meet profit expectations," says Jaime. "Everyone knows that most of these companies were not going broke. They were simply not making as much profit as they did in the previous quarter, and they chopped staff in order to boost their profits."

"I consider this to be unethical behavior and I would not work for such a company,” says Jaime, “and I’m lucky that I’m in a position where I don’t have to.”

Read more about Jaime:

  • ethics v. desperation
  • happy wife, happy life
  • ethical employer becomes greedy pig

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