What’s in your wallet (that you aren’t telling us about)?

Capital One is ranked 91 on Fortune 100’s best companies to work for list. I actually applied for a position at this company. I was intrigued by the fact that they are in the banking industry, but they do not have a banking culture. They place a high emphasis on having an entrepreneurial culture; using their vast amount of consumer data to improve customer experiences; and being on the cutting edge of the digital revolution. When researching Capital One, I found a lot of evidence pointing to their strong ethics as a company, but also a few events that painted a picture of less than ethical decision making practices.

From their own website, I found that they have been recognized as a military friendly employer, a military friendly spouse employer, promoting one of the healthiest workplaces in America, promoting a diverse workplace, a great place to work for LGBT equality, and a great place for working mothers to work. These are all great achievements.

Using propublica.org, I also found some examples of less ethical behavior. In 2012, Capital One was charged with pressuring consumers to buy packages they did not need and misleading them about benefits. Up to 2 million Capital One credit card holders were misled. Capital One settled this case by returning $150 million to harmed consumers, although they did not take full responsibility for the wrongdoing, instead blaming third party vendors.

A second example I found using propublica.org was a story released by the justice department stating that from 2005-2011 Capital One failed to offer veterans of the United States military breaks on loans, credit, and foreclosures that they are given by right. $12 million was returned in damages to these veterans as a result of a settlement with the justice department.

Overall, I still feel that Capital One deserves its recognition as a great place to work, and while it has been involved in wrong doings, not to mention its involvement in the United States Government bailout to the tune of $3 billion + (which it repaid in full), it seems to be an honest employer who goes above and beyond its duty to its employees and has not been involved in any major scandals.

8 thoughts on “What’s in your wallet (that you aren’t telling us about)?”

  1. What would be the difference between the entrepreneurial culture and a more typical financial services firm?

    How might ethics within the firm avoid the mistreatment of customers?


    1. From my understanding, the entrepreneurial culture allows the firm to exercise greater flexibility in providing solutions to customers, and also creates more of a meritocracy where the best idea will be used whether it comes from management or a new hire.

      Ethics within the firm could encourage employees to act in the best interest of the customer and trust that the bottom line will be profitable, rather than acting in the best interest of the bottom line and trust that customer interests will be satisfied. This code of ethics could possibly align with Kantian ethics in the sense that it would positively answer the question “if everybody else did what I am doing, would society be in trouble. “


  2. Capital One seems like a great place to work. However, they are shirking their duty to the public by committing these wrongdoings. Do you think that Capital One then acts under Kantian Ethics or a different perspective of ethics?


    1. Within the context of the two scandals mentioned, I would say that they were guided by the consequentialist ethical code. Unfortunately, this led them to evaluate the opportunity to mislead customers, or to foreclose veteran loans who are supposed to be given more generous repayment opportunities under law, and decide to proceed with their actions based on their projected consequences. Thanks for the good question!


  3. Capital One may advertise that they employ people from a variety of backgrounds, but then these employees willingly refuse veterans breaks on loans and mislead customers about which packages to buy. Which is more important – diverse employees or ethical ones?
    Even if the company employs fairly, I’m not sure I agree that Capital One goes “above and beyond its duty to employees” if its employees are encouraged to disobey laws and give out false information for the sake of increasing profits.


    1. My opinion on their going above and beyond their duties to their employees was generated from the apparent effort that they put in to employing citizens who for one reason or another could be shunned by other employers (veterans, lgbt, working mothers).
      I would not be comfortable stating whether I value the fact that they employ diverse employees over ethical employees, because these two groups should not be mutually exclusive! Thanks for the feedback.


  4. Looking at a company such as Capital One from the outside as a potential employee or investor may be deceiving. Any company looking to attract new workers is going to advertise themselves as having a great culture and being a great place to work. Did you contact anyone who had worked there and actually experienced the culture? Was it different or the same from what was advertised?


    1. Rafi, that is a good point. I did not contact anybody from the firm to confirm or deny Capital One’s culture, however I would point out that the information I found on their website was promoting the recognition that they have received from outside organizations, as opposed to simply tooting their own horn.


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