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October 09, 2007

Working for the Earth: Green Companies and Green Jobs Attract Employees
    by Anne Moore Odell

New research shows that employees want to work at green companies and are happiest at companies with solid corporate social responsibility programs in place. -- College graduates are looking for more than just a first job or an internship. They are looking to work for businesses that help the environment, according to a survey conducted by MonsterTRAK. Results from the survey show that a surprising percentage of young workers want employment with a green company: 80% of those surveyed said they are interested in a job that has a positive impact on the environment and a whopping 92% would chose working for an environmentally friendly company.

Other research shows employees working at companies with clear corporate responsibility (CSR) programs, including environmental and social programs, are most satisfied. Employees at these companies also stay at their jobs longer and are more content with senior management then their peers at companies with lackluster CSR programs according to a recent survey by Kenexa Research Institute (KRI).

According to Jack W. Wiley, executive director at KRI, the benefits of participating in CSR activities include: increasing an organization's competitive advantage when recruiting; setting the organization apart from the competition in terms of employment brand; creating an elevated sense of teamwork among employees; and helping to establish an emotional tie between the employee and the organization.

These new surveys imply that green and responsible companies are attracting and retaining talented people. Being green isn't only good for the Earth, it's good for HR, workers' moral, and the bottom-line.

MonsterTRAK is an arm of online giant employment finder Monster Worldwide (ticker: MNST). MonsterTRAK is geared toward new graduates and other entry-level positions. In light of its findings, MonsterTRAK has launched GreenCareers, the first online recruitment service that focuses on green employment. EcoAmerica and Environmental Defense, two environmental non-profits, are adding their expertise in partnership with MonsterTRAK to GreenCareers.

"EcoAmerica approached MonsterTRAK to create GreenCareers because there is an urgent need to reach and educate environmentally 'agnostic' audiences, in this case college students, about the ways they can address climate change and other serious environmental problems," said Mark Charnock, vice president and general manager, at MonsterTRAK.

GreenCareers works with both businesses and employees to support sustainability. GreenCareers' homepage offers featured employers like Greenpeace and Construction Management Group Malcolm Pirnie, and quotes from corporate green gurus at GE, and Interface. It also gives pointers to people looking to enter the green arena.

"Young people have always wanted to start on career paths with growth opportunities," said Lee Bodner, executive director of ecoAmerica, who partnered with Monster to develop the initial concept of GreenCareers and provided strategic planning, partnership building, and marketing expertise for its development.

Bodner continued, "And as young people are getting increasingly worried about environmental problems like global warming, which are already impacting the lives of people around the world, many want jobs that make the world a better place. As a new green economy emerges, it's clear that there are tremendous opportunities for young workers to find careers where they find both financial and personal rewards."

MonsterTRAK defines green jobs and green companies quite broadly. A green job is one that prevents pollution, reduces the consumption of natural resources and/or actively promotes the appreciation or protection of nature. Looking across industrial sectors, green companies are defined by the same criteria. Any job at a green company could also be listed even if that job doesn't directly help the environment. The example MonsterTRAK provides is an accountant at an organic food business.

"MonsterTRAK and ecoAmerica consulted with Environmental Defense, a leading national nonprofit that helps create breakthrough solutions for serious environmental problems, to create a comprehensive description of what constitutes a green job and green company or organization," MonsterTRAK's Charnock said. "Through our alliance with ecoAmerica, we work to review each job and ensure that it meets the criteria as defined."

KRI's newest annual survey backs up the theory that companies being responsible for their local communities is more than PR, it is good HR. KRI is the research division of Kenexa (ticker: KNXA), headquartered in Wayne, PA, a provider of employee acquisitions and solutions.

KRI surveyed workers in Brazil, China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom and the United States. They found employees that give high marks for their company's CSR initiatives are happier employees. The survey found that these employees are more likely to stay at the company than employees who have unfavorable opinions of their company's CSR activities.

"Those organizations that have a clear CSR policy set themselves apart from the competition in terms of employment brand. Partaking in CSR activities not only has positive societal effects, but also increases an organization's competitive advantage when recruiting, especially younger workers," said KRI's Wiley.

Interestingly, Kenexa reports that approximately one-third of the employees surveyed perceive their organization as having a strong CSR culture, and approximately one-third perceive their organization as having a weak CSR culture.

"Given we know that employee engagement is related to higher customer satisfaction and business performance, it behooves investors to investigate closely the CSR initiatives companies have in place," Wiley told

"Why? Because these initiatives, in turn, lead to higher employee engagement and an increased ability to attract new workers, especially the younger workers who are the future, critical talent stream necessary to fuel an organization's growth," Wiley continued.

All the signs are pointing toward a future where green companies attract talented employees and talented employees are attracted to green companies. Investors, management, and other stakeholders should take note that profitability is built on the shoulders, brains, and dedication of satisfied workers. It stands to reason that green workers help grow the bottom-line.

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