Choosing a sustainable employer

If you are looking for employment at an organisation that aligns with your own values and prioritises environmental sustainability, it will take some in-depth research to figure out how sustainable the organisation is.

This is often difficult. Many organisations participate in ‘greenwashing’, claiming that they are very environmentally friendly even when their positive environmental impact is very small.

However, there are some steps you can follow to discover how committed a potential employer really is to sustainability, to enable you to make an informed choice.

How transparent is the organisation about sustainability?

You should assess how transparent the organisation is about how sustainable they are and the quality of evidence they provide to back up these claims. This can include asking:

  • What is included and what is not included in their plans for where they aim to be in the next few years?
  • What awards or accreditation schemes have they signed up to, if any? How legitimate are these?
  • What kind of sustainable work events are offered by the organisation? Do they offer working conditions that are sustainable, such as remote internships?
  • Do they invest in their local community? Do they hold company litter picks or organise company volunteer groups for local botanic gardens, countryside trusts, or wildlife trusts?

In addition, you should consider whether the organisation offers retirement or investment options, or issues company credit cards. If these invest in, or involve companies that invest in, oil or other pollutants, you can request that they be switched to renewable energy, sewage or water.

To help you approach these issues in general, you can consult the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which has an accord that organisations and businesses can sign to show their commitment to sustainability.

Ultimately, transparency is the easiest way to tell how green your potential employer is. The organisation’s willingness to discuss these issues with you is a great way to know how much they value sustainability. Do not be afraid to ask questions about sustainable issues to provoke change, and consider even asking the above questions when being interviewed for a job.

Additional resources