Archive for September, 2008
Mused by Nick
Much of this blog’s attention is focused on the environmental changes that are occuring around us. At this moment in time, it’s also equally noteworthy to mention the labor market changes that are happening as a result of the financial fallout on Wall Street (and increasingly Main Street). The NY Times ran a wonderfully written piece that explains all that’s wrong with job seeking in the 21st century. It pointedly noted that things had changed: “I feel like they’re a waste of time and money,” [a 15 year recruiter] said of job search sites. “I’ve seen a decline over the past two years of qualified candidates. It used to be that we would get 300 résumés. Now you are lucky to get one. I think qualified people are much more savvy.” At BGT, we focus on customer service–it’s a deteoriating thing in a reputationally-based industry, and easy to forget. Email and the like make things so impersonal. But at a time when folks are genuinely getting engaged with their careers for the first time (in some cases) decades, we think it’s important to meet this enthusiasm to join the green economy with equal vigor and add a personal touch. We’ve still a long way to go–recommend improvements to our service online if you’ve got ‘em–but we’re fighting to make finding a career a meaningful journey for all involved.
Penned by Nick
This past Saturday marked the National Green Jobs Day of Action – thousands of people showed up at hundreds of rallies across the United States to call for political support for green jobs. Carolyn Mansfield, our Community Engagement Associate, met up with folks from Global Exchange, the Apollo Alliance, and more to speak out for green jobs at the opening of the California Academy of Sciences – take a look at the event report here. We spent the afternoon in Oakland, where we were a proud sponsor of the Ella Baker Center’s concert and rally. We had a great time meeting with a bunch of folks, hearing about their green job aspirations, and, of course, enjoying the sun and great music. Our photos are up on our flickr account – take a peek!
Scribbled by Nick
I’m on vacation just outside of Eugene, Oregon, where the firs, cedars, and redwoods line the shores of the McKenzie River. Having just spent the past three days flyfishing (catch and release), I’ve learned quite a bit about the changes the river has undergone over the past forty years (each of our guides has been a resident since at least 1951, and guiding since 1961 at the earliest). The river’s less populated with salmon, and the steelhead introduced ten years ago brought with them a virus that’s decimated the “planters”–fish who are born in a hatchery and then released for the recreationalists. Generally speaking, the climate writ large is still alive and well, though the river’s warmed precipitously and begun to turn brown due to poorly planned man-made intervention. Overall, my sense is that the river’s held up well through decades of ecotourism, and that the greatest threat remains poor preservation policies and runoff from heavy logging back in the hills. Ultimately, it’s a beautiful place to be, and promises to be so for generations to come, but is definitely showing signs of anthropomorphic warming.
By Paul, through Tom:
Here’s an article our co-founder Paul Hannam penned, well worth a peek!
Caught up with by Tom:
Earlier this year, we placed Andrew Kluth in a key position at Halcrow, I met up with Andrew last week to have a catch up and to see how he was getting on and asked him a few questions about how he was finding things:
1) We recently helped place you as Group Director of Sustainability for Halcrow, one of the world’s leading consultancy organisations. Why did you take the role and what do you hope to achieve?
AK – The culture of the company is superb. It works very hard to live its stated values and considers these to be one of the main reasons why it attracts and retains clients. I want to bring together the very many sustainability-activities Halcrow undertakes as part of its day to day work to formulate more explicit and comprehensive sustainability values and practices which support and reinforce what is important to Halcrow, its people and its clients.
2) What have your first few months looked like for you and what were the key challenges involved in getting up to speed?
AK – Understanding the huge diversity of skills and knowledge within the Group! The average Halcrow employee is very knowledgeable in their areas of expertise, so there is no shortage of sensible opinions.
Bringing these together into a coherent picture takes time, as does identifying priority areas. The business units operate autonomously. Sustainability has been assumed as part and parcel of Halcrow’s business offering, and so there is a need to put in place clear policies and strategies, then set Group-wide objectives, targets and KPIs, while remaining sensitive to the Group’s operating ethos.
3) What do you think sustainability means in the engineering world?
The predominant view is that it is what we do for our clients. Consulting groups like Halcrow are people-based and have relatively low direct impacts. However, we can have enormous and long-lasting influence through the advice we give and the work we do for clients. We need to give sufficient emphasis to our own sustainability efforts to show that we are credible and committed, while recognising that it is the indirect impacts that will be our real legacy.
Quizzed by Nick
The New York Times ran an especially insightful Op-Ed as to the benefits of drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge. Interesting because, in large part, it makes a compelling economic argument that both the ‘use’ value of the refuge (for drilling) is greater than the ‘non-use’ for preservation, to the tune of trillions of dollars. The one component of the argument that seems to be missing is the concept of accounting for the carbon emissions (or carbon sink) value of drilling. Currently the US does not have a tax on carbon, but should it, I wonder whether the long-term value of destroying an environment that could be turned into a large carbon sink still outweighs the value of lower gas prices?
Food for thought–curious to hear other’s thoughts…
Over the last weeks, we’ve been examining the trials and tribulations of being a green employer… here are a few of our findings:
- All things being equal being green can act as the critical differentiator in helping talent decide between one opportunity and another.
- People in green jobs tend to be more loyal and will stay longer if they can engage their values
- Some organisations have tried to use green to hire people but failed to back it up with genuine, authentic actions. Talent will often leave these businesses as a result.
- For junior jobs and graduate trainees, green clients get an enormous number of applications, far more than other jobs or clients in other industries receive.
- There is danger in hiring someone who is passionate about green and has the right values but does not have the skills. Enthusiasm and commitment alone are not enough, there needs to be a business case.
- There is an increasing conflict between promoting green in some areas of the job yet being compelled to be unsustainable in others – lots of business travel, flying, conferences and hospitality with lots of waste. Many green executives have a bigger carbon footprint than they did in their previous jobs
- The conflict between wanting to change the world yet still following a traditional business model that is part of a system that is causing enormous damage to the environment. Many environmentalists still see business and particularly Fortune 500 corporations as the enemy, that propagate a wasteful, damaging and unsustainable mode of operation. Can people in green jobs reform the system from within without being accused of selling out.
Right now, Sarah Pallin is asserting that building pipelines in Alaska is somehow independent of oil company interests and the path towards energy independence that will ultimately secure our national security. Politics aside, it’s an interesting statement considering the $40bn in public money that supported destroying one of the last pristine preserves of wildlife in America.
Beyond the environmental threat, there’s a number of other emergent trends that are overlooked here. And again, politics aside, it’s somewhat frightening. Like Thomas Friedman notes today in his Op-Ed, there is an emerging world order that revolves around next generation energy technologies that requires an immediate departure from old oil politics of the past, not only for our environmental preservation, but for our own national and future security.
As renewable technologies do begin to take control of our long-term energy supply, it will be interesting to see how the political dialogue evolves in response to larger international pressures. Friedman encourages education in the meantime, and a long hard think on how we’ll navigate these tumultuous times ahead.