Employment

A poll found one third of workers would turn down a job at a non-green company

Is it really the ‘job of your dreams’ if the company doesn’t align with your fundamental values?

Extinction Rebellion protestors outside Lloyds Bank in central London Image: Unsplash / Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

A third of professionals in the UK would turn down a job offer if a company’s environmental, sustainability or climate control values did not align with their own, according to new research.

The findings coincide with Rishi Sunak’s COP26 announcement that UK-based companies and financial institutions must demonstrate how they will adapt and decarbonise, or face fines.

Companies will have to publish their net zero transition plans by 2023, and come as part of the government’s target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Increasingly we get asked ‘what does X company stand for?’” said Chris Poole, managing director of Robert Walters recruitment agency, which conducted the poll.

“As a workforce strategy, ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) has become a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining talent,” he continued.

The global study of 7,000 workers across 20 countries found that the UK ranks 13th in how important employees place their company’s sustainability agenda when making career decisions. France came out top, with more than half of French workers saying they wouldn’t work somewhere for the same reasons. 

Gen-Zers (roughly those aged 18-24) and baby boomers (roughly those aged 55-73) appeared to be the most concerned about their employer’s green credentials, whereas millennials were the least bothered about their company’s impact on the environment.

Rather than environmental impact, millennials placed mental health, workers’ rights, and diversity and inclusion high on their agenda.

COP26 sponsor Unilever was labelled by Break Free From Plastic‘s global brand audit report as the world’s third worst plastic polluter, only trumped by The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, which bagged the top two spots as the world’s top plastic polluters for the fourth consecutive year.

Green jobs, on the other hand, have gaining greater prominence in the run up to the COP26 climate conference being held in Glasgow. There’s currently no standard definition of a green job, but broadly speaking, a job is “green” if it has a positive net impact on the planet.

Typically, these roles are in industries which are sustainable on the whole – such as renewable energy – but a job can be “green” if the role is sustainable even if the company isn’t necessarily. 

According to ONS figures, there were 202,100 full-time jobs in the UK low-carbon and renewable energy economy in 2019, down from the 235,900 green jobs recorded in 2014.

“Green jobs are win-win,” Hannah Martin, co-director of the Green New Deal UK told The Big Issue. 

“We’re in an unemployment crisis and also in a climate crisis, an inequality crisis. If you look at those things together, it’s no wonder that people across the UK are angry and want more,” she continued. 

In order to hit the government’s net zero carbon emissions target, jobs in sectors like oil and gas will have to disappear – with greener jobs necessary to avoid unemployment. 

The Green New Deal UK has a free tool to find out how many green jobs are in your area and how many could be created in the future through UK Government investment.

However greenwashing – the practice of misleading consumers or potential employers on how environmentally friendly or sustainable a company is – could make it harder for job-hunters to find legitimately environmentally friendly roles.

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