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Saying no to dirty work
A desire to make a positive contribution to society is leading graduates to seek out conscientious employers. Justine East reports
The Independent, 16 June 2005
Careers with a conscience are more important than ever to graduates, with the latest UK Universum Graduate Survey revealing that a third of them count contributing to society among their top career goals. "The fact that so many consider it even more important than traditional attractions like status and money just goes to show much things have changed in recent years," says Gideon Burrows, author of JustWork: The Ethical Careers Guide. ...
Philippa Foster Back, director of the Institute of Business Ethics (IBE), agrees. "There is much more awareness among young people about major issues than there was 10 years ago," she says. "Climate change is the one most people are familiar with, but there are others too, like supply chain issues." ...
Even oil companies - among the most controversial of all businesses - can take corporate social responsibility (CSR) seriously. While Esso/ExxonMobil is at one end of the spectrum - with a very unimpressive record in social and environmental responsibility and human rights - BP believes CSR makes business sense and leads to concrete differences. ...
Aside from major initiatives such as its social investment strategy, BP's CSR department reports that sometimes it's the smaller-scale actions that matter. In Azerbaijan, for example, Amnesty International were unhappy about security staff guarding a BP pipeline, saying it contravened human rights. Agreements with the security firm were rewritten and training on human rights was given to staff. ...
"Far from being scared at the thought of grilling employers, graduates should remember that interviewers are generally impressed when they realise you've done your homework," says the IBE's spokewoman.
Nicky Major, head of CSR at Ernst & Young, says that more and more graduates ask these kinds of questions. "People who are looking for ethical careers are exactly the kind of people we want working for us," she says. After all, rather than being run-of-the-mill and bland, these graduates stand out as being passionate, resilient and dedicated.