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How “green″ is that job?

Each posting on GoodWork has a green/environmental aspect to the job, the organization, or both. Many are with clearly "green" employers, but some are with "mainstream" or "sunset" companies, in roles that help them improve their practices, comply with environmental regulations, or remediate their operations. We believe that all these jobs are important and meaningful in their own way.

Although GoodWork does take care to ensure that overtly inappropriate jobs are not posted, ultimately it's up to you to decide whether a particular job satisfies your ethics, standards and criteria.

Green career paths can be confusing. Will that "Environmental Engineering" degree lead to work actually helping the environment, or just designing exhaust systems for parking garages? Will a degree in Environmental Law prepare you to battle the worst polluters ... or to aid and abet corporations trying to evade their environmental responsibilities? The answers aren't always simple, but good career research and planning can help you avoid some nasty dead ends.

Before going to an interview or accepting a job offer, it's important to do your own research about the job, employer and industry. This will help you make a decision that's right for you. It will also help you write a better cover letter, and perform better at the interview. Here's where to start:

Researching Employers' Social and Environmental Practices

If possible, do your research *before* the interview. If you have any show-stopping questions or concerns, bring them up with the employer during the interview. Try putting your concerns as questions not condemnation, e.g. "What is your policy on...?", "Is it true that...?", "What steps is your organization taking to ...?" Be aware that asking probing questions could lose you the job (for better or worse). Or, by demonstrating your initiative, it might just land you the job.

Where to research companies' environmental reputations:

• Visit the employer's site and read their "About" or "Company" sections
• Learn to recognize greenwash, spin, propaganda and corruption. See: http://www.google.ca/search?q=greenwash | http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spin_%28public_relations%29 | http://prwatch.org/books/experts.html | http://prwatch.org/tsigfy.html | http://planetfriendly.net/business.html
• Search pollution/pollutant information for that company or community: http://pollutionwatch.org/ or http://www.ec.gc.ca/inrp-npri/
• Google: search for the company name plus words such as "environmental", "greenwash", "unethical", "scandal", "criticism", "watch", "scam", "reputation", etc.
• Google: search for the topic or industry (e.g. "mining") plus relevant keywords (e.g. mining watch, mining watchdog, mining environmental, mining ethics, mining sustainability, etc.)
• Wikipedia: search for the company name then look for a section titled "criticism", "controversies" or "environmental impact", or click the "discussion" or "view history" tabs to learn more. Also search for the topic or industry (e.g. "petroleum") and look at the bottom of the page for related "categories".
• Call environmental groups/organizations (ENGOs) in the province that work on the issue at hand (e.g. energy, mining, forests, etc.) A phone call might be more effective than e-mail. Find groups in all provinces here: http://rcen.ca/affiliate-networks
• Check corporate watchdog organizations, lists of "allegedly unethical firms", etc.:
http://dmoz.org/Society/Issues/Business/
http://dmoz.org/Society/Issues/Business/Allegedly_Unethical_Firms/
http://www.corpwatch.org/ | http://www.corporatewatch.org/
http://www.ethicscan.ca/Catalogue/reports.html
• Try whistleblower sites or organizations such as http://fairwhistleblower.ca ; more at http://dmoz.org/Society/Work/Whistleblowing/
• Seek out green business organizations, publications and social networks in your area, such as CorporateKnights.ca, CBSR.ca, SocialInvestment.ca, BALLE (LivingEconomies.org), GreenEnterprise.net, GreenDrinks.org, etc. (more at http://planetfriendly.net/business.html )
• To be fair, not everything you read on the web is balanced or accurate. Try to get both sides of the story and do further research if necessary. Concepts like ecological footprint, "cradle-to-grave", or lifecycle analysis could be applied. Also, companies sometimes reform, so allegations could be out of date.

Do enough research so you're satisfied that you won't be stuck in a job where you can't make a real difference, where the management or owners have little or no genuine concern for the environment, or where you just don't fit in.

Related Resources

• Preparing for an Interview http://google.ca/search?q="preparing+for+an+interview"
• Job Search Tips & Resources http://planetfriendly.net/goodworktips.html

• What is a "green job"? http://goodworkcanada.ca/define-green-job.html
• Finding Meaningful Work http://planetfriendly.net/wiki/?title=Meaningful_Work

• Wanted: Positive Person http://goodworkcanada.ca/greenjobs.php?id=2286
• "Us versus them" mentality http://google.ca/search?q=us+versus+them+mentality
• Black and white thinking http://google.ca/search?q=black+and+white+thinking

• How to be an Organizer, Campaigner, Activist
http://www.google.ca/search?q=community+organizing
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Community_organizing
http://dmoz.org/Society/Activism/
http://www.planetfriendly.net/active.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activism
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Activism

It's a good sign that there is debate over what exactly is a "green" job. For the sake of our planet, it's an important debate to have. We welcome your thoughts on this important topic.

Best wishes in your search for green, meaningful work!

- The GoodWork Team

Permanent link to this page: http://GoodWork.ca/greenwash

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GoodWork Canada
Canada's Green Job Site Since 2001
http://www.GoodWork.ca

 

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Note: This posting is provided on an "As Is" basis and for general informational purposes only. People and Planet (also known as "GoodWork") is not responsible for the content, accuracy, timeliness, completeness, legality, reliability, quality or suitability of this posting. We do not screen or endorse the organizations or individuals involved. If you decide to accept an offer of employment, volunteering or any other arrangement, you do so at your own risk and it is your responsibility to take all protective measures to guard against injury, abuse, non-payment or any other loss. Please read our full Terms & Conditions.

GoodWork ID: 18341       Date posted to GoodWork.ca: Jan 1 2015