Ethics Question

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by friendorfoe, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    Okay, so I will likely be interviewing soon with an employer who provides IT services exclusively for "pay day loan" type places that I consider to be predatory lenders and unethical by nature. The salary is about 20% more than I make now. Would it be unethical to take a job with a company whose sole purpose is to further a mission I disagree with on an ethical level? Just wondering...and curious to hear thoughts on it.
  2. StefanM

    StefanM New Member

    Yes, it is unethical. Clearly you already have qualms about it, and this should be enough to convince you to pass on the opportunity. It might be different if the pay day loan clients were only a part of the clientele, but if they constitute the entire clientele, I suggest passing on this job. Ethical and cognitive dissonance isn't worth 20%.
  3. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    I'd like to try to put a finer point on the question. If I am a pacifist engineer and I take a job with a BIG engineering firm and one (or more) of their divisions manufactures weapons of war, is that unethical?

    My answer is no. It's not unethical. No laws are being broken, no professional codes of ethics are being compromised. Ethics refers to professional standards. What you're asking about (I think) is about your own personal morality. The company in question is breaking no laws, they're not violating any professional codes of conduct, etc. The question is simply, can you live with it? No one can answer that for you. Only you know that answer. Ethics and morality are not synonyms.
  4. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator Staff Member

    If it goes against what you believe in, then don't do it. They do provide a service to those that need quick cash. They are a business serving a need. I know some people on here trash places like Everest, UoP, etc and work for them - is that any different? It all comes down to the question of "what can you live with?"
  5. StefanM

    StefanM New Member

    Although I understand your point, ethics is also known as moral philosophy, and it existed as a field of philosophy long before professional standards of ethics emerged.
  6. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 22, 2012
  7. StefanM

    StefanM New Member

    Patronizing statements aside, you're wrong, so I don't know what I can say beyond that fact.

    Even a cursory examination of the field of ethics suggests otherwise.

    And, in response to your link, morals do not equal ethics, but ethics do address morals, especially when one is dealing with normative ethics.
  8. major56

    major56 Active Member

    Presumably you concluded your own answer at the outset …
  9. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    Thanks for the input all...I think I will pass on the opportunity but before I do I will ensure that I understand that their core business model is in fact payday loans. If it is I'm out, plain and simple, fortunately I am qualified enough that I do not believe I have to jump on the first opportunity that presents itself and I am blessed enough to be allowed to cherry pick jobs.

    Anyhow the main catalyst to all this is that I was passed over for a promotion in my own office 3 seperate times even though I am currently doing the job of the higher levels. For example we have 3 levels of project management here and I am on the bottom rung which is to manage small, non-complex and/or low risk projects however I am now managing 2 programs, consisting of at least 6 seperate projects to include a major software migration which is way, way outside my payscale. This last hire they made was someone from outside, off the street. I am in house developed "talent" and I think as such I am perhaps being taken advantage of because I believe they think I will not leave and so I'm the bargain program/project manager. I cannot renegotiate my salary as I've topped out in my job class so the only way to higher compensation is a formal promotion. Anyhow, as painful as it is I guess I need to be patient but I am suffering from lack of motivation and I do not want to become "that guy" know, the disgruntled, jaded employee so turning down an escape route is a little tough at this point but I think sticking to what I believe to be right is more important than more money. It's tough to do when it's right under your nose but I think in the long run it's clearly the right choice for me.
  10. Abner

    Abner Well-Known Member

    Hey brother,

    Based on the fact that you would be doing IT work for them, I do not see it as unethical. Why? You are not involved in the payday loan process, and the fact of the matter is some people have to do business this way for whatever reasons. I myself despise these practices, but I feel it has no bearing on the fact that you would be doing IT for the payday type dudes.

    So here is what you have to decide. Could you just do your IT work and not think about the payday type stuff? If the answer is no, then things will begin to eat away at you. If you can separate the two worlds, you might be ok. This is something only you can decide.

    Good luck either way, a 20% raise is hard to pass up.

    Abs :smile:
  11. Ian Anderson

    Ian Anderson Active Member

    Ethics training was an important requirement in my previous job. You raise an interesting question - in my opinion this is not an ethics situation but one of conscience. Personally I would not work for a "pay day loan" business (or pawn shop which are essentially in the same business) although I understand why they charge such a high premium.
    Some years ago I worked for a small company which give advances to employees as a perquisite.
  12. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Clearly there is nothing unethical about such a company or any position within such a company as long as it is operated within the law. There is also nothing that is implicitly immoral about such a company or any position within such a company. However, morality is not fixed. There exists a plurality of moralities in the world and even within a neighborhood. You must make up your own mind as to whether you can live in that world. There are many worlds I could not live in. For example, I would never work for a tobacco company. Obviously there are many others who have made other choices. You all can throw around definitions, what's the difference between morals and ethics, etc. but in the end our op has to make a decision of conscience, that's all I meant.
  13. StefanM

    StefanM New Member

    This is where distinctions are important. From a professional perspective, I agree with you (and with Kismet) that this is not a question of ethics, as no professional expectations are being violated.

    The question boils down to personal ethics. Is it ethical (in one's own life) to violate through employment one's ethical convictions?

    A similar situation emerges in other industries. Is it ethical to provide services exclusively to a pornographer? A strip club?

    Also, it is important to note that the business in question is not simply providing a service such as food delivery, garbage collection, etc. The business involves directly and materially facilitating the activities of the payday loan businesses.

    IMO, payday loan places are immoral and unethical from my personal ethical convictions. Then again, I also must recognize the formative influences in my ethical decision-making process, and these include religious beliefs. Others may or may not share these convictions.

    Now, my answer would be different if the OP had no problem with payday loan places. I would say that it would not be unethical to provide services, even though I would have personal qualms about the matter if I were in that situation.

    What I consider unethical is the disregard for one's own convictions for the sake of financial gain. If you do what you believe to be wrong for the sake of personal gain, that is, IMO, unethical.
  14. StefanM

    StefanM New Member

    I wouldn't necessarily agree with the rest of your post because I hold a different set of beliefs, but I know that's an area where we all must simply agree to disagree.

    I do, however, agree with your concluding remarks here, and that's actually why I consider it unethical. IMO, if the OP violates personal conviction in order to take this job, such an act is personally unethical.
  15. perrymk

    perrymk Member


    Some years ago a friend worked as a PhD chemist testing cigarettes for a major tobacco company that I will leave unnamed. I asked him who in the lab smoked. He said most of the lower ranked people, people washing glassware, cleaning up, etc. with only high school or AA degrees smoked. About half of those doing the routine work, running instruments, etc. with BS/MS degrees smoked. None of the PhD research chemists smoked.
  16. imalcolm

    imalcolm New Member

    I'd be more concerned with the stability of the industry. Ethics aside, I suspect that payday loans are riskier than a typical business, so I personally would not take such an opportunity if my current employment was relatively secure.
  17. friendorfoe

    friendorfoe Active Member

    This post hit the nail on the head. I consider this a question of personal ethics not professional ethics. For example I would never work for a pornographer, abortion clinic, strip club or the BATF regardless of salary. I consider payday loan vendors to be legalized loan sharks and at least in Texas they have exploited soldiers, single parents, etc. to no end for huge profits. I couldn't support that in any material way nor will I.

    Thanks guys and gals.

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