My work is not exactly "fighting the good fight." Should I quit?


This is a problem that I care deeply about. When you consider the number of hours we spend at work (typically 40+ hours per week), there is no denying that our work says A LOT about our priorities. This is particularly true if you are someone who, like me, has enjoyed the privilege of choosing your profession. 

Here are 5 important factors to consider as you hold yourself accountable to ethical work:

  1. Is the ick-factor coming from a profession you view as inherently problematic, your organization's culture, or a particular ethical challenge at an otherwise acceptable job? The scale of the problem will shape your range of actions and will dictate how much courage you need to follow your conscience.
  2. What is your power to impact the root problem? If you are senior in your organization or an influencer in your industry, don't walk away without at least trying to change problematic cultures, business models, or strategies. Use your influence for good.
  3. Who are your allies? Chances are, at least some of your colleagues share your discomfort. Determine who they are and whether collective action is a viable strategy.
  4. Do you belong to a faith tradition that can guide you? For example, "Right Livelihood" is among the tenets of Buddhism's Noble Eightfold Path. The Catholic social teachings cover ethical work extensively. These are just two of many traditions that address the ethics of work. Speak with your spiritual advisor.
  5. What's your savings plan? Everyone (everyone!) needs an "F* YOU" fund. Know your magic number: how much cash do you need to walk away? Start saving aggressively if you aren't there yet.

All of these questions assume that you are not working for subsistence wages. That good fortune comes at a price, friends: the responsibility to BE the change we seek.

The urgency of this is heightened by the current political climate in America. We live during a time when the goodness of both our nonprofit and business sectors must offset a morally weak government. It's a hefty responsibility for every one of us to reckon with. 

(Unless you live in Canada, in which case, lucky you.)