Should I Work for an “Evil” Company?

Should I Work for an “Evil” Company? – Freakonomics

A reader writes in with a question that is hard to answer. I thought it’d be best to put the question to you, our readers; hopefully you can help him find his way to a good decision.


I am an academic plant geneticists, who has worked at [a renowned academic institution] for the last five years. I’ve pretty much decided I want to leave academia but remain in science. The obvious direction to then go into is biotech and I think I could be a good fit for it. There are many options for me in biotech and I’ve applied for many jobs. The company that has been the most responsive to me is Monsanto.

I’m sure Monsanto would be a great employer for the reasons I would like to work in biotech (stability, good pay/benefits and collaboration). However it is seen by most as perhaps the most “evil” company. I’m confident I would lose a lot of friends if I did work for them. Also, I doubt I would dare tell strangers that I worked for them.

I’m not decided on how I feel about the company myself. I think they have done some messed-up things in the past but so have most large corporations. I’m more pro-GMO than most but also have my reservations. I understand the need for a company to patent seeds. I doubt I would be doing evil work for them and would not do it if I knew I was.

I wonder if you would find it of interest to look into the ways people decide to work for companies that most people hate. I doubt all those people are dead inside. Maybe most people can easily make the decision to work for famously “evil” companies or not but I can’t see it as obviously black or white.

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