Thursday, 17 March 2011

Ethical Employment: Career Choices

About a year ago, after the financial meltdown - there were all sorts of articles in the newspapers about how evil bankers were. I remember at the time (having spent some of my career in 'evil' financial services) that this was rather simplified generalization used to stir all non-bankers into a mob mentality.

The fact is, i've thought a lot about how my own employment can affect the wider world. The conclusion that you could probably do more good for the world being employed in an 'unethical company' than, say, having an organic farm.

I figure there are three different ways to think about this:

1. Choose an ethical trade which you can be passionate about and go to bed every night believing that you have contributed good.

2. Choose whatever profession you want - realize that it may be not contribute positively to the world at large. But ensure you make your mark somewhere else - charity work, spiritual work or reaching out to someone.

3. Choose an unethical trade and make it better from the inside out. The easiest way to change something is from the inside.

I don't mean that on your first day of work you should start whistle blowing, kicking off or ramming your opinions down everyone's throats (because you won't last there that long!) But adding morals, advocacy, questioning and pro activity at every part of the value chain will add so much value. Asking someone the question 'is this an ethical thing to do?' will encourage people to stop and think (even just for a nanosecond initially) and will often empower others who had not had the strength to question before.

This is what i've strived to do in any situation. I've tried not to be some evangelic preacher about my opinions but i've always strived to add ethics, values and morals wherever i go!

Are bankers evil? Maybe a few are!
But during my career some of the nastiest people i have met have been working in animal shelters and academia!