You don’t have to be in the ‘Kill Chain’, to realise that what you are doing at work, or what your company is doing, and of which you are a part, is something with which you personally disagree. This was very evidently the case for Laura Nolan, one of the Google’s top software engineers in Ireland, when she was assigned to Project Maven, a programme devised by the US Department of Defense to speed up drone video technology.
In her own words, ‘…I realised that I was…a part of the kill chain; this would ultimately lead to more people being killed..’
A further 3,000 employees singed a petition of protest against Google’s involvement and the company dropped the contract and is now, according to a panel of UN experts, engaged in best practise. Nolan eventually resigned as she became, ‘increasingly ethically concerned’.
Maybe this is a very extreme case of personal values running up hard against corporate or employer’s goals, but how many people find themselves in less acute situations, wondering what to do, or ignoring their personal values because it is required of them, with a kind of, ‘well, everyone else does it too. Don’t make waves, don’t stand out and don’t question the route the company is going’.
The more extreme the case, like Nolan’s at Google, the easier it is to make a case for saying, ‘No’. It can be the little things that eat away at us everyday, till perhaps we don’t recognise ourselves, or in a real push, may even become aggressive defending our choices, because we feel so awkward and vulnerable about them.
We all make value judgements at work regularly. Working with a coach or mentor, to get clear about your values and your purpose, can allow you to bring all of yourself, your talents, energy and enthusiasm to your situation, give you clarity around your choices and leave you feeling better about yourself and your job.
[More details of this case can be found at: