What is an Ethical Job?

Tara Barnett

An ethical job is any job that is in accordance with an employee's ethical standpoint. Typically, this term is used for jobs that promote the environment or humanitarian projects, but for some people, jobs related to churches or other organizations might be considered ethical jobs. Many people consider any job working for an ethical company to be an ethical job even if a person's job duties have nothing to do with the company's ethical mission directly. Creating jobs that people would describe as ethical is important both for companies and employees because ethics attracts both money and high-quality workers.

An ethical job might involve supplying humanitarian aid to a developing nation.
An ethical job might involve supplying humanitarian aid to a developing nation.

Usually, an ethical job will foreground the ethical qualities of the job. For example, jobs that work to promote saving the environment through recycling are usually considered ethical jobs. The term ethical job is usually used to attract a high caliber of potential employees, because those who seek out ethical jobs typically have the luxury of choosing to work in an ethical environment.

Often, ethical jobs involve working toward humanitarian ends. While many people volunteer to work for ethical projects, permanent employees are still needed to organize those volunteers. This type of ethical job can give committed volunteers an opportunity to turn a passion into a feasible employment opportunity. Almost all charitable organizations need paid employees, so there are many ethical jobs in this field.

There are also people who consider working for an ethical company to be the only qualification for an ethical job. In order to qualify as an ethical company, a corporation must usually donate to charities and work to promote the environment, sometimes even at the expense of their employees. Employees who work for these companies are typically willing to work for less pay in order to have an ethical job, because they perceive the good work of the company as something for which they themselves can take credit.

Even though people tend to think of ethical jobs as those that promote the environment or human rights, different people have highly different ethical standpoints. A highly religious person who believes in earnest that promoting her religion is her only ethical obligation might, for example, consider working for a church to be an ethical job. Likewise, a person who believes that abortion is murder might consider working for an anti-abortion campaign a type of ethical employment. Most people who use the language of ethical employment are talking only about a specific type of ethics, but the term could be much broader depending on the context.

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