What Do You Do When You Think The Company You Work For Is Unethical? We’ve Got Suggestions

March 4, 2015  |  

Right after the Oscars E! Fashion Police host Kelly Osbourne quit the show following controversy that seemed to the public to start with co-host Giuliana Rancic’s bigoted remark about dreadlocks worn by young actress Zendaya Coleman. The remark was reportedly written by one of the show’s writers, adding to what some say was her displeasure about how the show was run after Joan Rivers’ death.

Now it’s one thing for Osbourne, whose net worth is estimated at $15 million, to quit her job on principle. But can the average working girl do so?

“It can be difficult to continue working for a company if the values or principles it holds don’t align with your own personal beliefs,” Kelly Workman, vice president of staffing firm OfficeTeam, tells MadameNoire. “In general, we always recommend that professionals have a job offer in writing and should have already accepted a job before giving notice. The job market is still extremely competitive, so even the most highly skilled candidates can’t be assured that they’d land a job right away.”

But you can bide your time and hold your tongue. There is the option of looking for another job before actually quitting. “If you strongly disagree with an employer’s decision, you should immediately begin looking for another job as quitting right away may not be completely feasible,” says Sarah Benz, lead recruiter for national staffing and consulting firm Messina Group. Another option is asking for a reassignment to a different department if the disagreement is with your direct manager and not the company as a whole. Also, bring up the issue with HR and maybe something can actually be resolved.

But if you are being asked to do something illegal, there is no time to waste. Hand in your resignation immediately. This situation is putting you at risk. “…[Y]ou need to start seeking options right away,” says Benz.

But quitting on principle could be sticky when explaining your exit in future job interviews. In fact, according to an OfficeTeam survey of human resource managers, 33 percent said the way you quit your job can greatly impact your job opportunities. And 53 percent said that it can somewhat affect your job chances. So discussing how and why you left your previous position will be walking a fine line. Prepare ahead of time on how you want to address it.

“You should be careful about how you word things when you discuss why you quit your previous job to insure you’re not badmouthing anyone or coming off as trivial or difficult to work with,” explains Workman. Never under any circumstance should you talk bad about your former boss or company.  Instead you could answer with something like: “My manager and  I had differing work styles, but that to improve collaboration, I adapted my own approaches. Then you could provide specific examples of how you did this,” says Workman.

And put a positive spin on your resignation. “When interviewing it is important to keep a positive outlook. Sometimes it’s easiest to say that you are simply looking for new opportunities that are more in line with your newly acquired skill set, background or interests,” Benz points out. “If you feel that you must address the true reason, you can say that you are not in complete agreement with the direction the company is taking or think that there are other opportunities within the space that could use exploration. But leave it at that.”

So if you do leave a job because the company’s or your boss’ methods are contrary to your own, make a plan before storming out in a huff. The better you prepare your exit, the smoother it will be. And you conscience will remain in tact.

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