On Tuesday, new reports surfaced that McKinsey & Company helped the Trump administration clamp down on illegal immigration. McKinsey specifically advocated for cuts in spending on food, medical care, and supervision for migrants, as well as helping ramp up deportations of undocumented immigrants. According to ProPublica and The New York Times' joint investigation, some of the spending cuts were so drastic that they even made some Immigration and Customs Enforcement staff uncomfortable.
Although not all of the proposals were implemented, McKinsey’s willingness to jeopardize human lives should make it an unacceptable place for Penn students to work. It is incumbent upon Penn students to hold the consulting firm accountable and refuse to participate in its recruiting in the future.
Over the last few years, McKinsey has been one of the most popular employers among Penn graduates. For Class of 2018 graduates, McKinsey was the sixth most popular landing spot, hiring 23 Penn students. McKinsey is among the most prestigious management consulting firms in the world and helps put students on a path to professional success.
This is not the first time McKinsey has been in hot water over its apparent disregard for human rights. Last year, the company faced scrutiny after news surfaced that the Saudi government used data from a McKinsey report to silence dissidents. The company has been criticized for its enabling of other authoritarian governments, as well as for its work in increasing the sale of opioids — which in part led to an epidemic that killed more than 47,000 people in 2017 alone.
For students still unconvinced by McKinsey’s transgressions around the world, the company's role in the promotion of migrant detention camps should leave no doubt about its lack of morals. The increase in detainment and deportations, as well as the infamous child separation policy, has led to claims of medical neglect, sexual abuse, and other mistreatment of detainees by ICE. The detainment policy has also led to nearly 1,500 children going missing, including some cases in which federal officials turned children over to human traffickers.
There are a lot of factors that go into choosing where to work, such as salary, benefits, and hours. While these are important considerations, the ethics of one's workplace must also be considered. If people are not proud of the work they are doing, they should consider the reasons they are doing it.
While it is commendable that McKinsey ended its work with ICE back in July of 2018, that doesn't negate its years of complicity in ICE's human rights abuses. And it doesn't change the fact that the company only terminated its relationship after the family separation policy started drawing widespread criticism. McKinsey may no longer consult for ICE, but its track record reflects a willingness to value profit over basic human rights.
For years, McKinsey has been a frequent employer of Penn students after graduation. In many social circles, an internship at the company reflects an exceptional academic record and earns a high degree of respect. But in light of the company’s complicity in human rights abuses, working for McKinsey ought to be considered shameful and morally reprehensible. The motto of the University is "Leges sine Moribus vanae," or "laws without morals are useless." Penn students must hold themselves to this higher moral standard.
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