Posts tagged ‘ethics’

Green Businesses’ Dirty Little Secret: Implied Ethics

dsc_1294-1Penned by Nick

The question of ethics for environmental employers is a landmine issue that few people explore. In Wendy Jedlicka’s recent article, she suggests that getting a job at a firm with “eco-ethics” is both difficult and desirable. Though true, this misses the more pressing questions about how ethics apply to environmental organizations.

Finding employment with any employer right now — green or otherwise — is difficult. However, this insight doesn’t cut to the core of the question of ethics. Ethics aren’t constrained to “eco” companies alone. As business schools teach the world over, ethics are universal — both in business and in life.

What’s interesting in the domain of environmental companies is that these companies rely on their “ethical business models” to attract employees more than do traditional “brown” employers. The dirty little secret is that employers — from solar companies to sustainability consultancies and the like — rely on jobseekers’ assumption that they are ethical more than other firms because of their “eco” business models.

Having worked with employers worldwide to find and secure the top green talent, its become clear that not everyone embraces the same level of business ethics. Indeed, many businesses fail to highlight their ethics at all when we ask them what separates them from other employers.

Ethics in the environmental business are — at present — largely taken for granted. Yes, most employees at these firms believe they have a more ethical occupation, but the business practices themselves often don’t exude ethics. Quite to the contrary, many of these businesses fail to push their ethical practices as far as their products or services.

At a time when the very value of long-standing business models has been called into question (read: investment banking, insurance, etc), it strikes me that more employers should be focusing on their ethics.

More importantly, both employees and jobseekers of green companies should be challenging these firms to “walk the walk” and create a truly triple bottom line enterprise that embraces sound ethical practices, sound environmental practices and sound business practices.

Jedlicka’s article is right to raise the question about ethics, but readers should examine a company’s purpose/service to determine who’s ethical and who’s not.

Use the interview itself as a place to ask questions about how an employer’s environmental practices translate into more ethical business practices. Questions like these leave little room for maneuvering, but if a jobseeker’s goal is to find an ethical employer, those that are truly ethical will jump at the chance to respond to such a question. If they don’t, you may have found a case where an organization doesn’t truly “walk the walk.”

Continually pushing employers to keep ethics at the center of their businesses — green or otherwise — is the best way to ensure that your values align with your employers’.

[Originally published on]


April 17, 2009 at 5:26 pm Leave a comment

Morality and Green Jobs – Our Work with Wal-Mart

dsc_1294-1Penned by Nick

Earlier this week, we partnered with Wal-Mart to find them a Sustainability Manager for their China operation. Despite their efforts to improve their environmental practices, many folks still view Wal-Mart as guilty and negligent:

“Before Wal-Mart Hires a Sustainability Manager, they need a Morality Manager to assure that their painted toys do not contain lead, that their milk does not contain toxins, and other crimes that we are not aware of. After they make significant progress in this area and their environment is not held hostage along with their sweat shop workers are treated with respect, then we can address sustainability issues.”

The quote above came from an individual who’s sincerely concerned about corporate practices, and whether or implied or otherwise, this quote strikes at the core of what we do at Bright Green Talent.

At Bright Green Talent, our credibility is our currency. To the extent we work with organizations who have questionable environmental or ethical practices, we risk tarnishing our own reputation.

“Reputational risk” is often overlooked and hugely under-apppreciated. Living up to Wal-Mart’s sustainability standards means we have to raise our bar — if we’re going to represent them and find them the greenest of employees, we need to be better recruiters ourselves.

I always joke that I love my job so much because it makes me be a better person. In the professional context, my personal life is just as much part of the story as anything else. And so, when we work with someone like Wal-Mart, it’s not because they are the most green of all employers (though they are up there), but because we believe in the vision they’re pursuing. Removing lead from toys and toxins from milks is what this relationship is about.

Casting stones is no way to engage people in the environmental dialogue — whether it be personally or professionally. If we’re going to talk, lets talk about how to make it better and be part of the solution, and in the process, keep everyone’s reputation intact.

March 20, 2009 at 8:53 pm 3 comments

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