Is it possible to have a career that you think is ethical, even if you work for companies that are not ethical (such as Facebook or an oil company, for example)?

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After working at a couple of "progressive" organizations that espouse and advocate for progressive policies but treat their employees terribly, particularly their Black and Brown employees, I think ethical companies are unicorns.

likesmartfunny

Analyst - no I don't think you can because your foundation is skewed. I wrote a paper on business ethics are part of my masters and there are basically four levels of ethics at work you need to figure out how to be at peace with if you want to feel fully ethical: how you deal with yourself at work; how you and your work team / group / BU deal with each other; how you and your company deal with each other; and how society and your company interact.

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There are no ethical corporations in a capitalistic society

likesmart

The literally purpose of companies is to make a profit. Otherwise they are NON PROFITS.

No. Anything else is cognitive dissonance and mental gymnastics.

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Nice topic, yet my take is simple. Your career and life to an extend, will be as "ethical" as the aggregate manifestations of your own definition of ethos in time. So:

The level of granularity to which you understand and willing to accept the world around you, is an important feature of your ethos at a given time.

Then comes your ability to action your thoughts in a way that satisfies your standards (social, political, monetary etc.)

Now to actually address the question, to navigate an "ethical" career would mean that you are in constant check with your ethos AND your agreed living standards.

It follows that it's unlikely to run out of options in most settings that you willingly position yourself.

So yes imo, you can.

likeupliftingsmart

Why are Facebook and oil companies per se unethical? The point being don’t you have to decide what it is that violates your ethical standards before you can decide whether your reaction is unethical?

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m

People are ethical or unethical. Yes, there are industries that serve a more "immoral" or "unethical" need, but ultimately even an "ethical" company can be unethical. Ask anyone at a Big 4 accounting/consulting firm.

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I would definitely recommend never, ever, to compromise your ethics for a job. It always a long term disaster, and often doesn’t work out in the short term either.

So, this presents a serious problem if, like many of the people on this thread, you believe that business is fundamentally unethical. In my experience, admonitions like that often come from the mouths of people trying to justify their own ethical shortcomings to themselves.

If you don’t see an ethical way of productively going about your life and producing value for the world, then you should consider taking a long hard look at your system of ethics.

From the dialog around PWC 1’s request to define ethical, it’s clear to me that you may not have a definition of that for yourself, and that is a critical first step.

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PwC is not ethical. They use ethics as a marketing tool.

this a thread of business majors who weren’t forced to take ethics classes in schools “there’s no definition of ethical” did you skip the entire canon of western philosophy?

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Consider reading about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He wrote “Ethics” in the early 1940s and intended it to be his magnum opus. At the time of writing, he was a double agent; he was working for Abwehr, Nazi Germany's military intelligence organization, but was simultaneously involved in the a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

A more straight forward answer: Wither you believe human nature to be unethical (as I do) or ethical, it would be a mistake to view one’s external associations as a deciding factor. I’m more concerned with my own moral compass, the external “field” to which it aligns, the sensitivity of my conscience to it, and my resolve to act upon it.

I think we’re all equally immoral, if given equal opportunities to be immoral. Therefore, the standard for what should be is external to us, not subordinate to our standards. So, no, I don’t think any external thing can cause us to have an unethical career. I think our response can be to act unethically, or even to refrain from acting ethically (similar but worth noting.)

The response being left to us, any employer could be permissible. We need ethical police, even in unethical departments. We need ethical judges, especially in corrupt governments. And we need spies, yes even double agents. The lengths a person may be able and willing to justify going, in order to remain in such a position is a much harder question. One worth careful individual consideration. That’s why it’s so important to have a North Star outside ourselves, a compass faithful to show the way, a conscience to command our attention, and the resolve to do right; because none of us ever escapes the capacity to error no matter who signs the checks.

It may just be that the most ethical thing to do is bring about the most good in the places that need it most.

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I don’t think it’s unethical because the position at the unethical company would still exist even if you don’t take the job. I think consuming goods and services from the unethical companies is far more unethical because it helps them generate more revenue.

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"I mean, guards at Auschwitz would exist anyway, so why not me... "
No. It's unethical. It's wrong.

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I can do more to push for good and create internal pressure from within the Company than a can outside of it... so yeah it’s up to how involved you want to be

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Wrong question: if people can’t go to work because there is no oil, is it ethical ? If you don’t have plastic, such as the ones in your phones from which you use fishbowl, is it ethical ?
Are organisations taking decision based on ethics in a capitalist system ? No
Organisations act solely on rules and on an interest, maximise shareholder value

But other parties can shift that interest and other parties, individuals, government are able to consider ethical decisions.

So, if you’re an ethical person, you should not work for companies that you consider not ethical. But unethical companies in absolute terms do not exist

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Yes. As long as you sustain your ethics and moral code, you could have a successful career.

This may or may not be true. Sad to say, those who look the other way when the boss veers off the ethical path are often rewarded.

Seems to me that each organization has a culture. If the culture is unethical, then that is not likely to change and you will likely be called upon to do dirty deeds. If not, you may be looking for a new job.

Ethical culture has to be more than words. Unethical behavior has to have consequences with no downside for the whistleblower if unethical behavior is substantiatef. Words without actions are meaningless and so is "culture."

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I don’t think so.. all parts of an organization work with each other and support/facilitate the other . Would be hard to extricate myself from the machinery and rationalize

Yeah just become a whistleblower

Nope

When you get hired to help a company to improve and get rid of unethical practices, you may have an ethical career. For example, if you’re hired as D&I Executive to fix harassment and bias practices.
Facebook and oil companies are typical examples of falling victims to changing social standards. It can happen to any company.

This entire premise is confusing, or at least doesn’t seem to be directed towards attorneys. We are counselors and provide our clients with the direction they need to make informed decisions. If you are counseling unethical conduct then you are unethical. If you are counseling ethical conduct then you have behaved ethically. Honestly, companies are run by people so it’s not companies but people you have an issue with. That said, if your premise would be taken seriously then it would be unethical to represent any person you know has committed a crime. That would undermine the entire process and I would argue would be inherently unethical to protect the individual from the power of the state. The true debate seems to be whether the law provides a proper ethical basis for your counsel. I believe great attorneys are supposed to be learned scholars and real world aware so as to provide their clients the best advice possible and not just what’s allowed under the law. It sounds like you feel the same way. That being the case, if you feel Iike the decision making process or goals of a company do not fit with your personal ethics then you shouldn’t work there. That doesn’t make you unethical if you stay, it just makes you unhappy

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