Why Working for an Ethical Company Matters

Why Working for an Ethical Company Matters

By: Ray Wang
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Being a recent graduate entering the workforce, I believe there are several things that job seekers should look for in potential employers. In addition to the salary and the job description, I believe that a company’s ethical practices are just as important as the benefits employees receive. Some of you may be wondering why a company’s ethical practices would matter and why we should care.

Personally, I think working for a company which values integrity, responsibility and the public interest can provide employees with a sense of confidence and security as the organization seeks to offer consumers with safer products and services, unlike unethical companies, which may fail to provide the best products and services to consumers, and worse, whose products may be harmful to consumers.

For instance, Harvard Business Review reported that during the 1970s, Ford produced the Ford Pinto, a compact car which was infamous for its tendency to leak fuel and burst into flames during rear-end situations. This issue had caused the death and injury of 24 individuals. Prior to the initial launch of the Ford Pinto, Ford engineers had already discovered the potential threat of the fuel tanks, but because of the stiff competition between Ford and Volkswagen at that time, Ford decided to release the model nonetheless.

This example illustrates some unethical practices of an organization and the serious consequences following this. We can see how employees can be indirectly involved with a company’s unethical practices, regardless of their own ethical grounds. Therefore, working in an ethical organization can help prevent employees from engaging in unethical behaviours. Also, having clear and ethical guidelines ensure an organization’s products and services meet certain standards and criteria, encouraging positive impact on consumers. For me, this is certainly a crucial element that I look for in companies. I would not want to work for an organization, like Ford in the 70s, that sold unsafe and dangerous products to consumers.

Working for an unethical company can also translate into job insecurity for employees because the company may be constantly facing lawsuits or scandals. Such negative publicity may lose consumer trust in the business, leading to layoffs due to reduced sales and profit. A more socially responsible company, on the other hand, is likely to have fewer such distractions and could therefore focus their resources and attention on managing and growing their business.”

Also, a survey commissioned by the BCBusiness magazine to determine consumers’ view on the importance of companies’ ethicality and corporate citizenship indicated that 87% of consumers believed organizations have a responsibility towards our community, society and environment. Moreover, 70% the same respondents said that a company’s corporate citizenship has some influence over their purchase decisions. Poor corporate citizenship, then, can turn down purchases and drive down sales.

With this being said, I hope readers can understand the angle that I am coming from. I know that we do not live in a perfect world where everyone behaves ethically, but I do think companies that attempt to integrate ethical practices into their daily operations can benefit consumers, employees and other stakeholders involved in the long run. If you’d like to make a positive impact in your work, these are certainly things you should consider when applying for a job. 

Posted on January 19, 2012