Sustainablog

This blog will cover some news items related to Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility, Stewardship, Environmental management, etc.

7.3.08

Going green can attract and keep employees: IBM Butterfly project mentioned in Globe and Mail..;)


Congrats to Susan for getting this project off the ground :-)
 

Report on Business: Globe Careers

WEEKEND WORKOUT: Kira Vermond dissects the latest workplace and career trends
Going green can attract and keep employees
KIRA VERMOND
globecareers@globeandmail.com
930 words
19 January 2008
The Globe and Mail
B16
English
2008 CTVglobemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Say what you want about jet-setting, $100,000-a-speech Al Gore, his environmental message is hitting home – and work. Corporations and smaller workplaces are jumping aboard the green bandwagon and developing environmental platforms displayed proudly on websites, annual reports and recruiting brochures. It seems saving the planet doesn't only save money and boost brand value, it might even recruit or retain the best employees. Or does it?

Green is good

When Alina Szober applied for the marketing manager position at Bravado! Designs in Toronto two years ago, the company's eco-friendly practices hardly made her radar. Ms. Szober admits she wanted to know specifics about the job, her responsibilities, the maternity apparel company's take on work-life balance and the salary.

It wasn't until further into the hiring process that she discovered environmentalism ran deep in the company. Bravado! donates extra fabric to charitable organizations. Employees all use the kitchen compost bin and very little waste – only two bags every other week for 35 employees – makes it to the curb. Ms. Szober took the job.

"If a company is responsible to their community and environment, then that really tells you something about them. It's a reflection of their bigger corporate value system," she says, admitting she's much more green now at home too.

A generational thing

Ms. Szober isn't alone in her thinking, especially among younger candidates. According to a recent poll from MonsterTRAK.com, a website for students and entry-level candidates, 92 per cent of young professionals say they would be more inclined to work for an environmentally friendly company. Companies, from Merrill Lynch & Co. to Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, IBM Canada and Enterprise Rent-a-Car, have taken notice of this shift in environmental awareness, and now tout their eco-friendly policies while on campus recruiting.

Dave Scott, campus programs manager for IBM Canada in Markham, Ont., says he's noticed a sizable shift in environmental consciousness, particularly within the past six months. Students want to know specifically how IBM is addressing environmental issues and Mr. Scott spends more time talking about power consumption, recycling and even butterfly migration, (a pet project at its Toronto research lab). Even so, preferring to work for a company with a greener track record is one thing, using that criterion to turn down a job is another.

"It's important, but I definitely don't feel it's a deal breaker," Mr. Scott says.

Ranks near bottom

That's exactly the conclusion found by a survey conducted by Jobfox, an online job service from McLean, Va. It found that only 5 per cent of job seekers considered working for an ecologically friendly firm a top priority when considering a career change, ranking 18th on the list of 20. The top five priorities candidates look for: advancement opportunities (55 per cent), more leadership responsibility (41 per cent) as well as work-life balance, respected leadership and a sense of accomplishment.

Employees might say they would prefer to work at a green company, but it doesn't mean they'll put the greenbacks where their mouths are and turn down a job that has everything else going for it.

Grassroots Up

Recruiting is one thing, but retaining good employees and keeping them engaged and proud of the company is another, says Carolyn Clark, senior vice-president of human resources for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts in Toronto. The company, which established a formal environmental mandate in 1990, is a pioneer in the industry.

Ms. Clark says the only way to ensure an environmental platform's success is to open it up to ground-level employees. That way, workers feel more connected to the program and are willing to do that little bit extra to keep green. At Fairmont, each hotel has a "green team" that meets regularly to discuss ways to reduce costs and the company's carbon footprint. The teams have come up with ideas ranging from making used soap available to charities, to donating old furniture and beds to local shelters and working with high school students to turn used kitchen oil into biofuel that powers their landscaping equipment.

"Our colleagues are closest to our hotel guests, rooms and kitchens. They were the ones that gave us all the original ideas," Ms. Clark says.

Start at home

Or in the office, to be more precise. Green offices are catching on says Peter Busby, managing director of Busby Perkins+Will Inc., an architecture and design firm in Vancouver. Ten to 15 years ago sustainable building – using more natural materials, fewer chemicals, energy-efficient lighting and heating, and windows that open – was relegated to the fringe of the construction industry. Employees sitting in cubicles far from natural sunlight and bundled up in sweaters amid the frosty air conditioning in July were the norm. But times are changing.

"In the last five years it's unbelievable how much traction this issue has gotten," Mr. Busby says. "Landlords are trying to get the edge over their competition so they know by doing a green building, it's more leasable."

That's what the recent Colliers International 2007 Canadian Office Tenant Survey indicates. Ninety-one per cent of commercial tenants surveyed said they would prefer to work in a green building. A healthy, bright office close to public transportation helps retain employees too, the survey found.

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