Systems & Strategies: Zoe Carey
E T H I C S R E F L E C T I O N
My research paper topic, domestic exploitation of retail workers, is driven by ethical violations in the fashion industry. Not only is my research topic related to ethics, but the process of my research also engages with ethical choices.
One ethical issue I came across during my research was during the interviewing process. I was bothered that my interview subjects may feel uncomfortable with answering some of my questions that were either hard to answer or personal. For example, I asked if they have experienced incidences of sexual harassment, which may evoke a bad memory. I also asked what their pay was, which may be personal information. To make sure my interview subjects were comfortable and that I did not emotionally harm them, I told them that they had the right to refuse to answer any of my questions they felt uncomfortable with sharing the answers to.
In my archival research, subjects discuss unethical issues happening in the retail workforce For example, Marissa Antoinett, who posted a video about why she quit her job at Abercrombie and Fitch, reveals that her managers denied a well-suited potential employee because his teeth weren’t perfect. All the YouTubers and bloggers in my research use the Internet as a means to communicate their opinions on what is ethical and what is not. As a researcher, I had the responsibility to differentiate between complaints from privileged people and legitimate issues that need attention.
Another ethical issue with my research topic is the topic itself. While I am trying to give a voice to retail workers, who face hardships daily and are overlooked because of other ethical issues in the fashion industry such as sweatshop labor, environmental destruction, and animal exploitation, the suffering of retail workers is nowhere near what sweatshop workers in third-world countries and animals slaughtered for their skins have to endure. In my essay, I am also claiming that the important issues (sweatshop, environment, animal) have been given a lot of attention in comparison to domestic exploitation of retail workers; however, I do not think there is enough attention given to fashion ethics as a whole. I want to make clear that I do not believe the levels of ethical violation in domestic retail exploitation, overseas labor, environmental destruction, and animal exploitation are equal. Instead, I am finding another perspective from which the fashion industry is violating ethics and human morals.