News  |    |  July 26, 2017

Ethics Can’t Be a Side Hustle

Blog post by Mike Monteiro. Published on


In the last few months I’ve had a lot of designers ask me “Where can I do good work?” And they don’t mean “good” as in quality. They mean good as in “on the side of the angels.” They look at the world, they see a garbage fire, and they wanna help put it out. That’s commendable. If there’s been a shred of a silver lining lately, it’s been seeing so many people rally to activism. It gives me hope.

Where can you do good work? The answer is so obvious as to be painful. Right where you stand. That’s where you do good work.

Last night I found myself at a meetup for tech people wanting to help non-profits. It was a seriously commendable endeavor. I applaud the people who threw it, and the people who attended it, but since I’m about to dump ice water on their dreams I won’t mention their names. Because I’m sure everyone meant well. (And they’re certainly more commendable than people who ain’t doing shit.)

But here’s the thing. You can’t help Uber build Greyball during the day, or help Palantir design databases to round up immigrants as your main gig, and then buy ethics offsets by doing a non-profit side hustle. We need you to work ethically during that day job much more than we need you working with that non-profit. [ . . . ]