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Brighter life
May 31, 2017

Will I be proud of the company I’m joining?

You’re at a party and the “where do you work?” question pops up. Do you answer proudly, or do you cringe? Sustainability can make the difference.

When searching for a new job, there are things you always consider: compensation, flexibility, work environment, to name a few. But today, job-seekers are becoming increasingly interested in how sustainably a company does business, says Eileen Chadnick, founder of Big Cheese Coaching.

"A paycheque is no longer the only reward or path towards work fulfillment," she says. "Meaning is where it's at these days for many careerists. Finding purpose in one's work is important … and if the organization's mission and rules align with one's values, there's a greater chance of fit."

But how do you define the concept of "more than just a paycheque"? For many people, that means corporate social responsibility, under the larger umbrella of "sustainability."

Contrary to popular belief, sustainability isn't just about being green. It also deals with economics, financial soundness and social equality, and refers to what a company is doing to benefit itself as well as the environment and society. Sustainability has become a huge element of how companies are measured, and what their brands stand for. That's why it's no surprise that many job seekers are rating sustainability on their list of pros and cons as they size up companies where they're considering working.

How do you find out whether a prospective employer is serious about sustainability? Here are three ways:

Read up on the company

You can also check a company's website for information, says Scott Boulton of the human resources advice and commentary blog, The Armchair HR Manager.

"Do they have any type of corporate philanthropy statements on their website?" asks Boulton. "Then do a Google search for information that validates (or doesn't validate) these statements."

Most large companies also have an annual sustainability report outlining their economic, social and environmental performance as well as their plans for the future. For example, Sun Life’s most recent Sustainability Report shows the activities and progress made towards its sustainability vision of building sustainable, healthier communities for life.

See if they've won awards

Has the company been recognized for its sustainability? Many reputable third-party organizations measure companies' sustainability performance with awards and rankings, such as RobecoSAM's Sustainability Yearbook, which ranks companies as gold, silver or bronze, or Corporate Knight's Global 100, which ranks publicly traded companies using criteria based on their sustainability practices.

Use your interview to find out more

Do you have unanswered questions? Ask them. Your interview is the perfect time to get answers to any of those questions that popped into your head while researching the company's sustainability efforts. Ask questions based on all the areas of sustainability, says Boulton, but also ask about the company culture.

"Ask the hiring manager how he or she would describe the company culture and management style," he says. "This will give some great insight into these areas as well."

Taking pride in what you do and where you do it can make a huge difference when you respond to that inevitable dinner party question. And what's more important is this: Making sure a company's values align with your own can help you decide if it's the right fit for you before you sign on the dotted line. 

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