How to Survive in an Unethical Workplace

You may feel like your hands are tied at work when choosing between right and wrong.

You may feel like your hands are tied at work when choosing between right and wrong.

There is a fine line between doing what you are told to do at work and doing what you think is right. In a down economy, it is often a difficult choice between choosing to remain in a toxic work environment or keeping your job. Personal morality may not fall into the category of what our boss sees as right and wrong. There may be times when you are asked to do things you do not feel right doing. The key to survival is in maintaining professionalism and following your company's code of ethics.

Accept the job for what it is. If you are truly unhappy at work, look for something else. Know that sometimes all employees have to do things they do not want to do. As long as you are not being asked to doing something illegal, perform the job to your best ability and accept that you need it for the time being.

Take steps to change the unethical behavior. If you don't like the way something is being done, approach management and try to have it changed. It could be that no one has thought to change the process. Be a part of the solution.

Draw a distinction between what is morally wrong, and what is personally wrong to you. For example, if you are pro-life but work for a company that produces the morning after pill, you may have a difficult time working for a research team to make the pill better. While the job may not be morally wrong, it may feel wrong to you. Either set your feelings aside and do the job or ask to be put on another task.

Make a list of the positive aspects of your job. Include your benefits and other perks. Maybe you enjoy the people you work with or have seniority over others. There may be more good to the job than bad. Focus on making a bad situation a good one.

Report the unethical behavior to the proper authorities. Whether you need to file a complaint against one person or a group of individuals, file a detailed report of the behavior and let someone else follow through with an investigation.

 

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Melody Dawn has been writing business articles and blogs since 2004. Her work has appeared in the "Gainesville Times," "Player's Press" and "USA Today." She is also skilled in writing product descriptions and marketing materials. Dawn holds a Master of Business from Brenau University.

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