Ethics, Integrity and Aptitude

Polluting Coal Company

Anita is an engineer who comes from a middle-class family. Her father is a driver in a company with a meagre salary. However, her family always encouraged her to study. She joined a good engineering college based on her merit and graduated at the top of her class. Finally, she got a good offer from a private coal power plant on a good salary. She now plans to support her father and pay all his loans.
However, soon after joining, she comes to know that the ethical standards of the coal company are very poor. The sole aim of the top management of the company is to maximize its profit. One of the ways the company is reducing its cost is by shutting off its Electrostatic Smoke Precipitators (ESPs), a device which is used to separate coal ash from the smoke that exits the chimney, for several hours in a day. ESPs consume a lot of power and the company saves a considerable amount of money by switching them off. However, switching off ESPs is leading to extremely high levels of pollution in the area and is causing respiratory problems to the people in the neighbouring villages.
Anita discussed the matter with her colleagues and was advised to keep her mouth shut because the orders had come down from the top management. If Anita made an issue about the ESPs, her colleague warned, she would most likely be sacked from the company. The colleague also gave some names of employees who had been sacked in the past because of the same issue.
1. Should Anita keep quite or raise the issue with the top management?
2. What are the different options available to Anita? Discuss and justify each option.
It is the duty of each citizen of the country to follow the law and work for the welfare of citizens. If Anita has come to know that the company is not following government norms and harming the health of the society, she must not keep quiet. Rather, she must do everything in her own power to fulfil her duty as a citizen and as an employee.
She may explore the following options:
1. She may approach the appropriate senior authority and try to convince them of the harmful effect of the pollutant on the broader population, the nearby villages, as well as the employees of the company. She can cite some examples where other companies were fined or closed by the government and courts after the local population protested regarding the pollution done by involving the media or other concerned government departments.
2. If the management does not agree, Anita may discuss the matter with some close friends and ask them to take up the matter with the local villagers and nearby NGOs, who can organise protest meetings and force the management to mend their ways.
3. She may also try to collect evidence of switching off the ESPs and the rise of the pollution level in the area at different times. This is possible by measuring the pollution levels at different times of the day using proper equipment. Such evidence can then be compiled and forwarded to the appropriate government authority for necessary action. She may send the complaint anonymously or through a friend to avoid coming directly into picture.
4. She should also try to find an alternative job even before she is sacked from the company. She must not work for a company which does not follow ethical norms and remains indifferent to its duties towards the society. 
Polluting Coal Company
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