Considering an ‘ethical’ career?


My name is Nikki and I’m a 1st year student at UoG, studying Geography full time. I’m also the part-time Communications Officer for the Sustainability Team. Not surprisingly, my choice of degree and employment stemmed from my desire to start a career that I feel will make a difference – that is, in my view, ethical.

As a mature student I have a few years work experience under my belt already (more than I’d like to admit!) but when I tried to move into a sector focused on environmental conservation, I found I didn’t have the knowledge, skills or experience they were looking for. Hence my decision to come here! So, when I was perusing Future Plan workshops to attend, that contribute towards the Gloucestershire Employability Awards, I was very happy to see one around ethical careers.

So what is an ethical career?

There’s no short answer to this question but basically it’s about seeking employment in a job, company or sector actively involved in contributing a positive effect on society.

That could be about gender equality, supporting social projects or minimising carbon footprint. It could be about fair wages or promoting work/life balance. Or, it could be all or these and more.

How do I have an ethical career?

Based on what I learned from the Future Plan workshop and my experience with the Sustainability Team, this is my 5-point plan for you:

1. Figure out what you are looking for – which ethics are most important to you – the environment, community, equality…..all of them? Is it enough for your job to just be ‘ethical’, or does the company or sector need to be ethical also? Could you do a job not directly related to the environment for example, but be happy working for a ‘green’ company?

2. Identify some job roles or companies that appeal to you – Check out the Sunday Times Top Companies  and get searching on recruitment websites that specialise in ethical careers  such as Green Jobs , Elevator Café, Change Agents UK, or charityjob.co.uk.

3. Get past the greenwash – It’s easy to be misled by companies’ marketing ploys to showcase themselves as ‘ethical’ or ‘green’, when this is not always the case. So, ask the real questions do your research! Look at company reviews or Globescan for example.

4. Get the skills and experience – get started early and try some of these:

  • Look at job roles that interest you and see what they’re looking for in a candidate.
  • Take full advantage of the Future Plan workshops
  • Arrange job shadowing
  • Boost your CV with voluntary work – e.g. take part in the Live Smart challenge
  • Find out what the experts say – read the EAUC Careers Sustainability Guide for example

5. Decide your compromise and remember you can make a difference – even if you might not consider your current role or employer as ‘ethical’, we all still have a responsibility to challenge unethical practices. If you see something that you think can be done better, or that isn’t ethical, speak up and let your employer know!

Remember – if you don’t manage to land your dream ethical job the first time around, don’t give up. Keep working towards it!

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