Should I work for an “evil” company?

A reader comes forward with a difficult-to-answer question. I thought it best to put the question to you, our readers; Hope you can help him make a good decision.


I am an academic plant geneticist who has worked at [a renowned academic institution] for the past five years. I’ve pretty much decided that I want to leave academia but stay in academia. The obvious direction to go then is biotechnology, and I think I could be a good fit for that. There are many opportunities for me in biotechnology and I have applied for many jobs. The company that has responded to me the best is Monsanto.

I’m sure Monsanto would be a great place to work for the reasons I would like to work in biotechnology (stability, good pay/benefits, and collaboration). However, it is considered by most to be perhaps the “baddest” company. I am confident that I would lose many friends if I worked for them. Also, I doubt I would dare tell strangers I worked for them.

I don’t decide for myself how I feel about the company. I think they’ve done some screwed up things in the past, but so have most large companies. I’m more pro-GMO than most, but I have my reservations. I understand the need for a company to patent seeds. I doubt I would do any evil work for her and wouldn’t if I knew it was me.

I wonder if you would find it interesting to study how people choose to work for companies that most people hate. I doubt all of these people are dead inside. Perhaps most people can easily make the decision to work for notoriously “evil” companies or not, but I can’t see it as obviously black or white.