Ethical job search dilemma - feedback appreciated

I’m having a dilemma and I’d really appreciate some feedback.

Background: I am the hearing child of deaf parents, have worked with disability charities before and have extensive customer services experience.

This is the job.

On the surface it seems like the perfect job for me and I’m pretty certain that if I applied I would have a good chance of getting it, with a little more research I come up against some serious problems. A lot of what this organisation stands for goes against principals that I hold very dear to my heart. I’ve looked through the site and the literature they’ve sent me with the application pack and their view of deafness seems almost wholly negative. Having grown up with Deaf parents and within the deaf community, I balk when deafness is described as a “tragedy”. It’s not.

Many deaf people live very full and productive lives and if given the choice, would not choose to be hearing. They’re proud of deaf culture and reject the notion that deafness is in itself a bad thing.

But this organisation (the very name - Defeating Deafness gives an idea of what it’s about) is all about how terrible being deaf is and how to help in the struggle against it. I don’t want to defeat deafness. I want to help deaf people gain access to information that they may not otherwise get (which this job is all about, on the surface), but I don’t want to be pushing the “here’s how to get rid of your deafness” line. I wouldn’t be comfortable insinuating that a person needs to be hearing to be happy. My view is that if you’re unhappy being deaf then by all means you should seek treatment, but that trying to be hearing isn’t always the best possible course. Sometimes it’s more productive to accept deafness and work with it, even be proud of deaf culture. This organisation doesn’t mention this anywhere at all.

A headline in the most recent bulletin: “Deafness Damages Relationships”. It includes the words “deafness robs people of their confidence”. I’m not sure I want to work for an organisation with such a negative view of deafness. I recognise the difficulties that deaf people face - I saw them every day growing up - but it doesn’t have to ruin lives, and being deaf doesn’t have to make people unhappy. I’m much more about promoting the achievements of deaf people and encouraging people to be happy with who they are rather than reaching for a cure that doesn’t exist yet.

But. It seems foolish to not go for a job I have a good chance of getting. I’ve just been made redundant and I don’t have another job lined up. The salary is good. Perhaps I could work from the inside, as it were. It just seems a bit high-and-mighty not to go for it - it is a job after all.

I don’t know what to do.

It might be worth exploring a little more – get a sense of what the people are actually like, whether you could work with them or not. If you apply, it sounds like you’d be a shoo-in for an interview – and (although I’m sure it doesn’t feel like it), the candidate is always interviewing the company or organization as much as they are interviewing him or her. The more information, the better, when you’re making a decision like this – if you apply, you’ll be in a position to get more information.

Your goal: obtaining gainful employment and preventing your own starvation.

Perhaps as an “information officer” you would be in a position to modify or at least have input on how the organisation presents itself and how it perceives deafness and the greater deaf community.

On a humorous note, is anyone else amused that an organisation dedicated to “helping hearing-impaired people through medical research and education” would require excellent oral communication skills (which would present greater difficulty for deaf applicants than hearing) but doesn’t require the ability to sign?

My advice:
Go through with the application process. Hopefully, you will be offered a chance to interview. Tell the interviewer that your views on deafness have been shaped by having deaf parents and spell out those views, just as you have to us. Then ask how the company views deafness and the deaf community. It could well be that they use terms like “tragedy” and "defeating"as a fund raising tool. I would wager that most hearing people would consider losing that ability to be tragic. It could just be an attention getter. More people will donate to “defeat a tragedy” than to “assist people with a not-so-bad-thing”. If that’s the case I’d probably take the job. If not, I’d look elsewhere.

Its pretty hard to ask for money to help people without evoking sympathy. “Hmm…I can spend my charity dollar fighting heart disease OR I can donate it to a charity whose literature says the problem really isn’t so bad–but which do I choose???”

Do they help people? Do you have skills that can help them help people? Can you be professionally fulfilled helping them help people? If so, do it. If you let your delicate sensibilities get in the way of good, not only will you be ignoring those you know you can genuinely help, but you’ll be the most high minded person in the unemployment line.