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I was just wondering if it would be unprofessional for me to stand up for animal rights in my work place in the situation explained below.

I am a Senior Web Developer in a team of 5 people building online solutions for a fairly large group in the UK. We are building the main website at the moment but there are plans for a lot more solutions in the future.

We have hired a 3rd party company in another country in East Asia (I'll not mention the actual country) that is well known for eating dog meat a lot, which doesn't sit particularly well with me, been a dog owner and lover since childhood.

I am not a vegetarian, so this may seem hypocritical to some but I wanted to know if I took a stand on this in the workplace in some manner would it be wrong of me?

By 'taking a stand' I mean possibly asking that we not extend the contract beyond what has already been agreed for the current contract in the future for the reason explained above.

Or, is this simply something that should be left out of the workplace?

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    Welll... those were some interesting comments to read through. However, keep comments relevant and constructive, thanks. Future off topic, opiniony, judgemental, etc types of comments will be deleted. – enderland Oct 26 '18 at 16:29
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    Do you know for a fact that anyone in the company actually eats the dog meat or you want to disqualify them because of coming from a dog-eater country? – Džuris Oct 26 '18 at 17:06
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    This question is... bizarre. – Apologize and reinstate Monica Oct 30 '18 at 15:21
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    When you say the country is 'known for eating dog meat a lot', what is that based on? What percentage of the population actively eats dog meat? To provide some perspective, my wife is Korean and they have a 'reputation' for eating dog meat. However, she says that was during the Korean war, when they didn't have any other options (except starve). I've been there and never seen dog meat on the menu. I guess what I'm saying is: don't take everything you read at face value. – Time4Tea Oct 30 '18 at 17:13
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    I'm Filipino and we have a reputation of eating dog meat. Just an FYI, that was abandoned around 80's-early 90s and were the only option prior to those years due to famine caused by the Marcos regime. Not everyone approved of it. If people still eat dog meat today, it's out of necessity, not of cruelty. However, your love for dogs shouldn't be affecting your relationship with your new co workers. – Isaiah3015 Oct 30 '18 at 18:47

12 Answers 12

123

is this simply something that should be left out of the workplace?

Yes, it has nothing to do with your work, they're not offering dog meat to you, or maligning your customs.

99

So the "country" is well known for eating dog meat, but you have no actual evidence of the people you work with eating dogs?

And you think your company shouldn't extend their contract with this company because of this.

Or, is this simply something that should be left out of the workplace?

Absolutely, this has zero business being in the workplace.

This is basically the same as someone who is anti-gun saying that they don't want their company to work with and American firm since America is well known for people having guns.

I'm no fan of the idea personally (I like dogs, I don't have dogs myself but enjoy spending time with the dogs of friends and family) but to give some perspective on the notion of your company contracting with this East Asian company..

It is legal to eat dog meat in 43 states in the US - only California, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia outlaw the practice so if you were to truly take a "stand" regarding this I suggest you ensure that you don't have any dealings with any American company based in one of the above states.

Or any of the following countries:

  • Canada
  • Nigeria
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • China
  • Thailand
  • North Korea
  • South Korea
  • Timor-Leste
  • Vietnam
  • Switzerland
  • New Zealand

In all these countries, dogs are eaten or are legal to be eaten.

Given China's status as the highest consumer of dogs as food in the world (20 million annually) I suggest paying careful attention to where your products come from - after all a substantial amount of goods in the UK are manufactured in China and the odds are pretty good that many of those factory workers eat dog at some point in their lives.

Do you have a Samsung phone or Apple iPhone? Congratulations! You're supporting the eating of dogs.

3 of the top 5 exporters of electronic components in the world are consumers of dog meat, so, the chances are pretty good that at least part of the device you used to post this question was produced in a country where eating dog meat is legal and accepted. (Although kudos to Taiwan and Hong Kong where it's been banned!)

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    You could probably just say "Have a phone?" pretty much any phone would apply lol – SaggingRufus Oct 26 '18 at 15:19
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    @SaggingRufus true.. I stuck with Samsung and Apple as being the top two brands in the world and also knowing they definitely involve at the minimum components that are made in Korea and China respectively (the two biggest consumers of dog meat in the world) – motosubatsu Oct 26 '18 at 15:22
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    I believe the first guy who went to the North Pole had to resort to eating dog meat to stay alive. Guess you better get rid of any encyclopedias mentioning this trip. – Dan Oct 26 '18 at 17:24
  • With regard to North Korea specifically I don't think this is a problem ;) – Ertai87 Oct 30 '18 at 17:59
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    +1 for going the extra mile to proving how myopic and short-sighted OP's interpretation is. – Leon Apr 3 at 9:57
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Is it unethical / unprofessional to make a stand of some sort in the workplace regarding animal rights?

Unethical depends on how you do it. Spraying dog blood around the office to protest would be unethical (and likely illegal), posting signs (that you printed with your own resources) against dog consumption not so much. To assess if it were unprofessional again depends on how you do it and what the company culture is (maybe the company has ethics against eating dog). If you have a desk/cubicle you are allowed to personalize then doing so might not be considered unprofessional, but beyond that, the company would like the work environment to be for work, not protesting. Telling your boss how you feel would not be professional either since your view has a lot of cultural bias.

We have hired a 3rd party company in another country in East Asia that is well known for eating dog meat a lot, which doesn't sit particularly well with me, been a dog owner and lover since childhood.

This is clearly about your ethnocentric judgement towards another culture. You consider dogs to be companions, but other people in other countries don't have that attitude or frankly luxury. A dog is a tool for security and livestock in one. Besides, you don't even know if anyone on the other team even eats dog regularly. Further there are people that think you are unethical for eating meat (maybe Indian firms will cease doing business because you eat cow) or not eating insects. I think you will find it to be an unproductive exercise imposing your ethics and values on others especially when they are of different cultural backgrounds.

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    In some companies activism of any sorts (except the ones sanctioned by the board) are forbidden. I doubt his 'large company' doesn't forbid this kind of action. Even if he prints the posters himself, there should be some red tape to allow him to post it in the workplace. – Mindwin Oct 26 '18 at 16:53
39

What you want to do is not 'taking a stand' for animal rights, but against consuming dogs. As a web developer, neither have anything to do with your work, but I strongly advice you to open your mind some...

  • Inhabitants of Europe and North America usually consume the meat of fowl, fish, cattle and pigs
  • Many animals bred for consumption (especially in factory farms) are treated quite badly and don't have what could be called a happy life. Do you protest working with companies where people might eat factory farmed animals as well?
  • In some countries where meat is rare, people eat for example rats or guinea pigs. Would you want to stop having business relations with companies from those countries?
  • In Islam the consumption of pork is forbidden. Do these people stop their professional cooperations with countries where eating pork is normal?
  • In India the consumption of beef is forbidden for religious reasons. Do Indians stop making business with Europeans and Americans?

Your protest might be seen as ridiculous or even racist and in the worst case impact your professional image. Try to be more accepting of the customs of other people and don't let your professional attitude towards people be tainted by rumors.

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    I like your answer because it gives examples from other perspectives to explain why OP's idea doesn't make much sense, rather than just saying it doesn't make sense. – TheWanderer Oct 26 '18 at 18:06
  • +1 because you hit the nail with that last statement, this is simply racism vs another culture and has nothing to do with animal rights in general. – KillianDS Apr 3 at 9:10
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In this case, it should be left out of the workplace.

Taking a moral stand is not necessarily unprofessional or unethical. Sometimes the opposite is true actually (think about Googlers' opposition to the construction of a censored search machine). But it should be reserved for very clear cases like human rights, democracy, free speech.

In your case, I'm not sure what your goal would be. Do you expect your company not to search for partners/ employees from the Asian country at all because people eat dogs there? If it was just one company that promoted eating dogs, the case wouldn't be so clear for me and my answer could be different. But it's about a country or even a whole huge geographical region.

  • Most likely they would just fire him, not listen to his demands. If he posts negative reviews that his company dealt with dog meat eaters, then his company could in turn sue for libel since there's nothing about what they do deals with dog meat. – Dan Oct 26 '18 at 17:25
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While it is a good thing to promote good throughout the world, your good is not someone else's good, there are limited resources to effect any policy (no matter how worthy), and sometimes it is far better to focus on the Human animals first.

Unless your company is directly involved in producing products for dogs, or dog food, you are asking your company to take on an expense for a benefit that doesn't further the company's goals (and is unlikely to improve the company).

It also may be interesting to you that the USA has one of the higher per capita dog ownership, and in many other countries dogs are viewed in the same way we view calves or sheep, as a food source. When one culture views something as precious that another culture eats, there are these kinds of clashes. In India, they probably would prefer that the USA doesn't eat hamburgers; but, I doubt any kind of social warrior effort from India would do much to change our stance on the all-beef hamburger patty.

12

This could be very much a CLM on your part.

Your "stand" may end up being in line to receive unemployment benefits.

This will likely be seen not as an ethical position, but bigotry against an entire nation, which will likely be of great detriment to your present and future employment prospects. Worse, it could be perceived as racism on your part.

Additionally, this is not a personal stand on your part. You are trying to get your company to take action based on your viewpoint and the associated risks and penalties in the very likely event this goes south.

Lastly, you have no idea if people in this group engage in this behavior, do not, or are even acting to end it. Again, this presents a very bad optic, especially if an outrage mob forms on twitter.

I would leave this out of the workplace and engage in slightly less risky activities such as hang gliding over active volcanoes.

10

It would be unprofessional. You are assuming they eat dog-meat or support the idea...

An analogous example would be an Arabic-based company refusing to do further business with your UK-based organization because a lot of people in the UK eat pork and drink alcohol. And because you live in the UK you clearly associate with those that eat pork and get drunk (and act like a bunch of drunken animals).

None of this sounds fair or ethical in foreign business-relations.

3

Most of the answers say something like "absolutely you should not do this". While I agree with those answers personally, I'm going to take a slightly different tack:

I think you should do what you think is right. If you think it is right to go to your manager/boss/whoever is responsible for making this business decision and explain to them your opposition, then by all means go ahead. You are an adult, you know what you think is right, and you have an understanding (I hope) of how the person would respond to your concern, as to whether they would be receptive or not. So by all means, if you feel strongly about it and you think it is the right thing to do, then go ahead and do it.

That said, be aware that, as others have said, this may come off as extremely unprofessional; you are not only raising an issue against the company where they are trying to reduce costs (working with East Asian companies tends to be a cost-cutting measure), but you are also doing so using an issue which is both completely unrelated to the business, and also, to be honest, somewhat racist and also logically unsound ("In X country they eat dogs, therefore these people specifically eat dogs. People who eat dogs are morally suspect, therefore these people specifically are morally suspect.", is basically how I would read your objection). Be warned that if you raise this concern in the way you have explained here, you may jeopardize your own position at the company due to possibly gaining a reputation as a racist (and as a side note, a reasonable grasp and command of the principles of formal logic are skills I would consider a requirement of a good engineer, and your lack thereof may disqualify you, at the very least, from the position of "senior" which you currently hold).

So bottom line: You should do what you feel is right, but this might become the proverbial "hill to die on" for you, as concerns your employment at this company. Is it worth it?

1

You are wanting to ask your company not to extend their contract with another company because they are based in a country known for eating dogs...

What you are suggesting will do far more harm than good. Such a stance can be used to breed xenophobia in the workpace (it's a short step to go from a company based out there to an individual who hails from there), will harm your reputation in the company, will harm your company's reputation if you go outside normal channels about it (because you haven't proven the third party is doing anything wrong) and is on the whole completely unneccesssary from a business standpoint.

That's bad for you, bad for your business, and it won't save any dogs.

The most constructive thing you can do is have a charity day for an animal based charity such as RSPCA. DON'T tie it to the third party or any other company, just make it a fun, innocent little thing that promotes treating animals properly.

0

We have hired a 3rd party company in another country in East Asia (I'll not mention the actual country) that is well known for eating dog meat a lot, which doesn't sit particularly well with me, been a dog owner and lover since childhood.

Reading this I can say that you have a formulated opinion of the area/country where the 3rd party company works from. It does not necessarily mean that all workers there are local and whether they participate on the dog meat eating festival. However I do understand your concerns.

By 'taking a stand' I mean possibly asking that we not extend the contract beyond what has already been agreed for the current contract in the future for the reason explained above.

Do you have any weight on the decision making process for the contracts being extended?

You could inform your team leaders of your opinion regarding this, reality is that the only reason I could see them changing their minds is if there was a different 3rd party proposal that was competitive enough or whether the product you sell has a majority of buyers or has as a target demographic vegans, animal lovers and so on. Other than a PR "stunt", I don't see this being a realistic thing that would change.

Or, is this simply something that should be left out of the workplace?

Unfortunately you are in the UK and we don't have Freedom of Speech (at least not as an unalienable right and absolute). The answer to this question is very dependent on the company you work for and how they accept different views.

But remember most companies in the UK will also have social media policies, so even if you show disapproval for something that they may take offense, it might be a good idea to also be careful there.

My suggestion is simple, make YOUR choices according to your moral compass, if asked privately your opinion, provide this but avoid any outbursts of opinion as unfortunately we can't freely express in the UK without fear of repercussions (I even run a news/blog website anonymously to be able to express myself)

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I think it is very unethical that you assume they eat dogs just because they are from a country where some people might. Do you support and do everything that your country does? However, if you did ask them how they feel about their country eating dogs and they said they encourage and do it, then I encourage you to "take a stand".

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Oct 26 '18 at 23:11
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    I think the people didn't like this answer because you didn't answer the question at all. The question is the ethics of whether or how to bring up the topic in a workplace, not the ethics of eating dogs. – Brandin Oct 30 '18 at 6:43

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