General Question

janbb's avatar

Do you work at a job that is consistent with your values?

Asked by janbb (57237points) January 29th, 2015

My job as a college librarian is not always rewarding but I think in the main, it is good work to be doing. For some time, I have been in charge of coming up with the themes and content of our library atrium displays. A few years ago, I did a display on LGBT issues that was effective and I am now working on one profiling women with moral courage. I am so happy to be able to do work that is in line with my values.

What do you do and does it affirm or deny the values you try to live by? (This question is not asked in any way to judge anyone for what they have to do to make ends meet. Just to start discussion.)

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41 Answers

syz's avatar

Sort of.

We practice excellent medicine and we charge for what we do, nothing more.

The “sort of” part is where I find ways to justify the things that I do that are outside of our primary purpose. For example, I support various non-profits and we fundraise/volunteer/work pro-bono by using marketing funds (we publicize those things that we do to support our reputation as a part of the local community).

If I wasn’t here doing it, none of those things would be happening under the owners.

JLeslie's avatar


Right now I work for someone who comes as close to possible in the industry we are in. He is a general contractor, he does construction, and he does care that his company does good work. He is an engineer and has worked in construction for over 15 years. I really value that he is mathematical and not just slapping things together. He charges very reasonable prices, in line with the industry, sometimes even lower than what is customary around here. Once in a while a price is increased a little more than I feel comfortable with, but I’m very sensitive about stuff like that. Probably overly sensitive. That’s a moral issue to me. Charging a fair price and caring and understanding the quality of work.

Previously, I worked in retail and real estate. I guess the retail I didn’t think in terms of my values, but most of the retailers and vendors I interacted with or worked for, I will say I feel were extremely equal opportunity, race, ethnicity, age, gender, gay, straight, transgender, cross dresser, everything.

When I worked in real estate the market was in a ridiculous booming trend. My partner and I more than once warned clients about taking crazy loans, so I feel good about that. We were willing to take lower commissions if our client decided to buy something more affordable. But, the industry at the time was out of control, greedy, and it was a little uncomfortable to me. Especially, that I was expected to handle contracts when all I did was take a week long class and a test.

Mariah's avatar

There are lots of things I could be doing besides programming that would be more morally fulfilling to me. Programming itself isn’t right or wrong it just is. But it can be used to do almost anything and it’s those applications that decide whether the job is going to feel good or not…

There are lots of jobs I wouldn’t be comfortable doing. I could work for the NSA. I could work for the DoD and actually did get a job offer in the defense sector. I turned it down. I wouldn’t really feel good about that.

There are lots of things I would feel really neutral about doing. I could program little apps and games that have entertainment or convenience value but that doesn’t really do anything for me…my internship over the summer was like that and I was so, so bored.

So this was a major factor when I went on my full time job hunt this fall, and I’m glad to say I found something that I think will really fulfill me. I’ll be programming an application that hospitals can use to match incoming patients to the most effective healthcare provider for their particular symptoms. I’m excited for this.

pittfan20's avatar

@janbb as you know from some of my previous posts,that I am A trained Mental Health Therapist.That said,I deal alot with the LGBTQIA population.It’s just nice to hear that other people are out there trying to help that population too.There’s not alot of services for them.

Jaxk's avatar

Let’s see, my biggest selling items are gasoline, tobacco, and alcohol. I…uh….er…..well, maybe this isn’t the best question for me. Nevermind.

cazzie's avatar

Yes. I am a daycare worker and care for each child as if they were my own. Plus, I have resources I can all on if need be. I love my job. I get to take care of babies and care and nurturer them as if they were my own. Best. Job. Ever.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I suppose. Well, it’s not out of line with my values, at least.

I work for attorneys that represent school districts. Sometimes a lawsuit will come up and I’ll think the people suing the district were wronged and should probably win, but that doesn’t mean the district doesn’t have a right to a defense. I’d love to work for defense attorneys one day, and they represent the “bad guys” – I don’t see myself having any moral issues with that, and it would probably be way more interesting than the work I do now. Oh, another school employee got fired and is claiming it was due to discrimination? How freaking interesting.~

I don’t think much about my values at work. It’s work – I make pretty good money and I don’t absolutely hate being there, so it’s all good. What I do in my personal time is separate. I wouldn’t work for an organization that was openly hateful toward any group of people, but lawyers are pretty good about keeping their personal opinions to themselves, so it’s a non-issue.

gailcalled's avatar

When I was involved with a Quaker independent day school, everything I did…paid job or volunteer stuff…was wonderful. I loved that community and loved how it affected my kids’ and step-kids’ values. Like the Jesuits, only more benign.“Give me a child until he is 7 and he is mine for life,” or something,

Seeing the members of The Society of Friends in action was “Listen to what they do, rather than what they say.” They rarely said much, just quietly did good, kind and helpful things with no broadcasting.

Vincentt's avatar

Not at all. In fact, the question about my job I get most is: “Isn’t that directly counter to your morals?”

It’s not as bad as it sounds; the sector I work* in has a bad reputation, and people expect me to take my morality into account when picking a job – which I do.

However, this is my first job. I’m learning a lot of valuable skills right now. It’s a two-year contract, and after that I’m fairly seriously planning to start a project that I hope will make the world a better place. For that, however, I need to have earned some starting capital and have gained the necessary experience.

The biggest hurdle right now is trying not to get used to a lifestyle in which I’m spending a lot more than I used to – if my plans do work out, I’ll have to live low-budget for a while.

*I’m a programmer at a bank.

Stinley's avatar

I know i do find it very difficult to work somewhere that was out of kilter with my values. I was working in a particular education establishment and I had to leave because I found the treatment of education as a business hard to stomach. I mean I know that the books have to balance but the whole ethos was factory-like – all about getting students in and doing everything to keep them in then churning them out with a qualification at the end, to the detriment of staff rights and morale. For example they made everybody redundant and reemployed them on lesser contracts. I wanted out almost as soon as I got there.

majorrich's avatar

Before I had to retire I worked in telecommunications for a major university (who happens to be the undisputed champions of footsball this year) My position put me in contact with pretty much all phases of the education process. Sometimes I would be splicing optical cable for the TV people, then I would be in a lab making the computers talk properly with the network. In-between, I would interact with students, staff and professors and try to help them with their interaction with my network. I like to think I was called to put a human face on faceless technology. During all this time I felt I was a part of the education process by making information flow. Also by being able to talk on equal terms with all levels of user, even to counsel and comfort the occasional odd student sitting in the lab sobbing because she just bought it on an exam. I got a giant kick out of the job and despite how unpleasant the folks upstairs tried to make it, I found great peace in doing what I did. I even went in on days when I had nothing to do (I was a salaried staff) just to tutor and work with my student helpers with their work. It’s been 11 years now since I left the university, and I still get emails and invitations to come and play lunchtime euchre.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Yup, I really like trucking and what I haul is a by product, that would be burned or land filled , and it has a real use in another industry, so all win win, plus I really like working alone.

Coloma's avatar

I was self employed, partnered up with an ex colleague in a home staging / int. design biz. for years until the economy wiped us out in 2010 and our personal/biz. relationship took a nose dive as well.
I loved the work, I was a tireless tornado of creativity, often working 14 hour days to finish and perfect and customize each home. Taking great pleasure and pride in our very unique, colorful and eclectic designs. Yes, it synched up perfectly with my values of providing a service based in joy, a warm and aesthetically appealing personal environment, going above and beyond to wow our clients and the sheer joy of turning an empty home into a work or art.

I’m a creative type that simply cannot and will not conform to a work environment that is dull, draining, and stifling to all creative energy. I’d rather be poor than bored, and right now I am. haha
I also have loved rural living for decades and when I wasn’t working enjoyed tending to my own environment and my animals and plants, gardens.
I have now been living for the last 6 months on my friends 10 acre ranch estate and we great plans for this years gardens and outdoor projects.

Designing a beautiful outdoor living space on the 1,200 sq. foot front porch with beautiful carved pillars and a fire pit. I am planning the horticultural end, a water feature, exotic plants, a water garden and other trappings for our outdoor living room this summer.
My “job” now is house and pet sitter and all around girl Friday for my friends who are a well off, childless couple in their mid-40’s that travel extensively for work, pleasure and the professional car racing circuit her husband is involved in. The 14 months I spent working back in the city after my little kingdom collapsed in 2013 was the worst 14 months of my life and I am grateful to be back in a creative situation, living on a beautiful property and having fun with my friends.

We’re also building new enclosures around the duck and goose barn with in ground ponds and I’ll be landscaping the habitats for the birds as well. Great fun coming up. :-)

marinelife's avatar

I am self-employed as a writer/editor. I only take projects that will not cross my values. It feels like a great luxury.

CWOTUS's avatar

Yeah. I believe in “Power to the People!”, and that is what we do, literally. We offer coal-, oil- and gas-fired utility steam boilers to customers around the world for the purpose of electric power generation.

Within the context of that employment I have also been appointed as “the safety guy” for our group, which has tended to make me even more risk-averse (aside from some of my own investing, that is) and precise in terms of describing technical issues than I normally am.

Thammuz's avatar

I make games. Or rather i’m studying how to and doing so at an amateur level for the time being, but still.

Any sort of artistic endeavour, as long as you’ve got sufficient creative control, can’t really go against your personal principles and views. It is, afterall, a product of your mind.

tinyfaery's avatar

The law firm I work for really helps people who are/were victims, but I’m not always ok with the means by which some of the attorneys go about things.

I’m neutral.

trailsillustrated's avatar

That sounds like such a great job, @janbb. Well, I’m a sex worker, it would not be consistent with most people’s values but I’m ok with it. I’m very pleased to not have to stress about money. In my previous life I was a dentist, and the pressure to sell! Put the fear camera into people’s mouths and enlarge the image on a giant screen and show them all the work they need made me sick. I feel much better about what I’m doing now.

JLeslie's avatar

@trailsillustrated That makes so much sense to me. I don’t know how I’m going to get through my life having to deal with medical professionals more and more under the system I live in here. If your statement isn’t an argument for socialized medicine I don’t know what is. I feel “raped” and robbed by doctors and dentists all too often. Sometimes I narrowly escape before it happens.

talljasperman's avatar

My longest job was as a cashier at a convenience store.. 99% of the products were unhealthy and I didn’t like selling cigarettes.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@JLeslie I’d go into the darkroom and cry. It was horrible.

JLeslie's avatar

@trailsillustrated OMG. :(

It really is a nightmare. A nightmare for the patients and for the medical
professionals who do have integrity.

JLeslie's avatar

I can’t imagine what it was like to do the unnecessary procedure. It must have felt like selling your soul. It’s awful. I feel really badly you went through that. I’m sure you had no idea it would be like that when you chose dental school.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@trailsillustrated, were you having to sell ‘unnecessary’ procedures or was it more having to persuade people to have treatment they needed (perhaps not urgently) but you weren’t comfortable pushing them to have work done?

JLeslie's avatar

I’m pretty sure my MIL was talked into an $8k unnecessary dental procedure.

My husband was told he needed a dental procedure and I flipped out. No dentist had ever said such a thing and he goes every six months. He was pissed, because he is tired of my paranoia. Trails actually helped me. I persuaded my husband to get a second opinion. The next dentist said he didn’t need anything done. The dentist who said he needed something worked in one of those dental factories.

My neighbor paid $10k to have a small skin cancer removed from her nose. A doctor friend a year later told her it should have been $500. I would say even less than that, except since it’s her face you want them to care about possible scarring.

I had unnecessary CT’s done to me that gave me about 20 years of background radiation focused on my organs in less than a minute.

I could go on and on.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’m not saying unnecessary dental work doesn’t happen. I’ve experienced plenty of that through the British National Health system as a child. However, I’m not sure that @trailsillustrated was saying SHE had persuaded people to have ‘unnecessary’ work. That’s why I asked her to clarify. She may very well have meant this, but that’s not how I interpreted her post. Unnecessary work and work that’s required but not urgently are two different things.

JLeslie's avatar

I see. I can’t speak for what she did obviously. I wasn’t in any way trying to put words in her mouth. I was only talking about what I’ve come across as a patient.

kevbo's avatar

I work as an editor at the home office of a 12-step program that serves people worldwide. I do groundwork so that program literature gets published in print and online, and I spend a lot of time reading and editing personal testimonials of recovery from addiction or progress made toward recovery.

I love this job, and it totally meshes with my values. The 12 steps are basically a prescriptive spiritual path, and I am knee deep in my own spiritual path that uses different words but basically signifies the same spiritual reality, so many days it’s an immersion in likeminded spiritual reading. My salary and benefits are 100% funded by voluntary donations from program members and from literature sales, so the money comes directly from the people I serve.

trailsillustrated's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit this was in the US, where I thought I wanted to live at the time. Here’s an example, (there are more). You work for a large group practice. You are just a cog in a spinning money wheel. You get a new patient, who is x-rayed and waiting for the exam. “The consult”! You do the exam, scanning the X-rays, well that filling looks a little old! When’s the last time you had a cleaning? You chart everything. Out comes the scare cam. Everyone has natural crazes in the enamel of their teeth. Magnified onto a super high resolution screen, you need a crown here, and here, and here. See these cracks? Look at this old amalgam filling, that needs to be replaced but it’s so big we’re going to have to crown it. Your gums are in bad shape. Let’s schedule you for a cleaning. Next week, in they come, they have periodontal probing and a cleaning. One persons’ 3 mm pocket is another persons’ 4mm pocket depending on that probe. The insurance will cover a service called “root planing’ if at least 3 teeth in a quadrant have ( I sort of forget) 2 or more 4mm pockets. Now, you need 4 quadrants of root planing at 450$ per quadrant! And recalls every 3 months! And, because now you are a periodontal patient, I have to stop my crown prep that was booked 30 minutes too short and the patient after that is already seated, and come and examine your ” progress”. I am going to sweat you about that crown you—-need—- and I am going to do it every 3 months. Then I am going to work till 8pm because our boss is opening up two more offices in the next two months, with leased state of the art equipment, and he’s going to LA for that 3 day mini implant seminar, and he and his wife just bought a ranch you see. I have to go vomit now

janbb's avatar

@JLeslie It does seem that you either have had extremely poor luck with the medical field or not very good ability to find doctors and dentists you trust. Can you not find one internist and one dentist that are trustworthy and use them as a resource for other medical work? I have encountered doctors and dentists I liked more or less but have found the ones I trust and also feel able to refuse treatments or tests that are too costly or don’t make sense. This is a side issue but a recurrent problem for you.

JLeslie's avatar

@janbb I do have an endocrinologist (actually she is a nurse practioner) in Memphis who I liked very much. She was the second one I tried there. I continue to see her, because when I moved to Clearwater the first endocrinologist I went to see ripped me off (no question about it) and I couldn’t deal with pursuing another one here at the time. Initial appointment very expensive and risk they aren’t good doctors and will double dip me and my insurance. No thank you, I can’t handle it.

I think my “GP” in Memphis, also a nurse practitioner, was ok too. She was the third I tried there, the first one practically put his hand down my pants. I want to clarify doctors being perverts is not something I worry about or am paranoid about, even after that incident.

My GYN was ok, but even with her, her office screwed stuff up that was hard for me to handle. I won’t bore you with the details on those things. She would agree it was screwed up, it’s not just me talking.

I think I am much much more aware of how the billing system works in health card than the average person. Ignorance is bliss I guess. I also know more medical things than the average person, and I have more of a sixth sense when something just doesn’t sound right. I think @trailsillustrated might agree with me on that. I’m not as likely to get sucked in to get a special cleaning for $450 as the average person. I see the thievery all around me and it really is there. It’s not paranoia when it’s real.

However, I do admit I am not a doctor or a dentist and lack significant knowledge, and know I need to rely on medical professionals to help me. It’s awful. I resent paying money to people who do nothing, harm me, or gouge me. This happens more than most people know in medicine.

keobooks's avatar

I find I can’t work at a job if I don’t agree with their values. I used to work as a telemarketer for Time Life Books. When I loved the product and thought you couldn’t get it anywhere else, I was great at sales and loved the job. When I discovered you could buy the same books at bookstores for much cheaper than Time Life was selling them, I quit within 48 hours.

Even though I know that parking police are important on a big campus, I was terrible at the job because I agreed with the person who was complaining about having a meter only 5 minutes expired and hated having to pay 40 bucks. I knew there were parking police who stood by meters and waited for them to expire so they could write up tickets. I just couldn’t do the job.

I loved working at the bookstore, where I could introduce people to great books, but I liked the library even better because I didn’t have to worry about cost. All the books were “free”

thorninmud's avatar

Finally, yes. For a long time I made pastry and chocolates for a living. Nothing wrong with that; not the healthiest stuff, sure, but there’s room in a healthy life for the occasional indulgence. Eventually, though, I got soured on the whole “foodie” scene that kept me afloat. For many of our clients food was a near religion and their lives revolved around seeking out newer and greater food thrills. It didn’t feel right to be a part of that.

Now I apply the same basic creative thinking and craftsmanship skills to working out technical solutions for improving the lives of people with disabilities. Most of it is very basic stuff, like finding a way for them to drive a power wheelchair with only one finger, or coming up with a way to push elevator buttons, or helping them keep the right side of their pelvis from hiking up in their wheelchair. If I do my job well, I get to see someone whose life is suddenly easier or more comfortable. This is much more meaningful to me than providing yet another treat to people who live from treat to treat.

Blackberry's avatar

I think so. The owner gives us free alcohol all the time, and he starts people off way above minimum wage and gives other perks.

The military however, I uad zero in common with.

janbb's avatar

@thorninmud Come live with me and you can provicde treats and cure my ills alternately!

JLeslie's avatar

Talked to my mom yesterday. She had a mole removed that possibly was cancer. They lost the result. When I asked her if they still had the block and slide she wasn’t sure. She actually isn’t sure if they lost the tissue removed or only the record of the result. We’ll see.

tinyfaery's avatar

Florida wins again.

I have never in my life experienced such things.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@jleslie, your poor mum! Howhorribly stressful.

JLeslie's avatar

My mom lives in Maryland. I doubt she is very stressed about it

I think a lot of people wouldn’t even know if their doctor only calls with bad results. I doubt doctors keep track of all lab tests they send out (maybe some do) they just look over results when they come in. My bet is my mom called for the result and that’s when they realized something was wrong. I’d have to ask her to be sure.

chelle21689's avatar

No. I currently work at a staffing agency and recruit for a client that is making me lie about open positions and telling people they’re being hired when we have no open spots there just to have people stay in background! Also I noticed the math was off in pay for the candidates and our company losing money…took it to upper management but no one listens or cares. It’s messed up but I can’t afford I lose my job. So I do what I can to find the people “hired” ready for another opening elsewhere. I hate them!! I wish I can say the name of the company.

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