Why employees want to work in vilified industries

“Have you looked at our caps recently?” is the question a worried Nazi soldier puts to his comrade in a comedy sketch performed by David Mitchell and Robert Webb. He has just noticed that their uniforms are emblazoned with skulls; a doubt is nagging away at him. “Hans,” he asks. “Are we the baddies?”

No company employee has concerns of this sort. But some sectors are stigmatised enough to be known as “sin industries”—booze, gambling, tobacco and so on. Other industries have gone from being respectable to questionable: fossil-fuel firms, say. (A few, like cannabis firms, are travelling in the opposite direction.) Nationality now casts shadows in ways it did not before: working for a Chinese company might once have aroused admiration but now provokes suspicion. In an age when everyone is supposed to have a purpose, why would employees who have a choice work for the baddies?

The cynical answer would be pay. There is some evidence to suggest that executives in sin…

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This article was written by and originally published on www.economist.com