A friend recently received a call from a large tobacco company. The product she would would be leading is fantastic. The kind of work being offered is even more fantastic. But at its core, the business represents something which is against her personal ethics. Is she being inappropriately biased, debating whether to accept the job?
This might seem one of those rare occasions wherein having to ask the question itself, begets the answer. Taking a step back though, she might also need to ask:
If I get the job, will my value system impede my being fully effective?
If you face this situation, this is an issue only you can decide. You need to be comfortable with yourself regardless of what anyone else thinks. That’s not to say I (and many others) do not appreciate the quandary though;)
In my region, a similar issue surrounds General Motors. A lot of people that despise the company for having been bailed out…more importantly the ‘way’ they were bailed out. I know more than one automotive engineer who wants work, feels very strongly about GM, and struggles with whether to go work there.
The challenge with a tobacco company is that, while you may not care for what ‘some’ of its products may do to its clients, it is not forcing their products upon them. The customers consciously decide—at some point in their life—they’re going to smoke tobacco.
They might die as a result. Their choice, not yours.
The argument would be exactly the same working for Smith & Wesson. Great company. Makes great products. Some of which aren’t used just for sportsman-like activity. Does that mean you don’t go work for them?
In the end, you cannot make everyone happy. If ‘you’ are happy with the opportunity in front of you, then go for it!