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8 May 2009
Green recruiting – what’s the role for the corporate web site?
Senior Consultant | Read all Martina's posts
When I was doing some digging into online CR reporting for our latest Outlook report (you can read the result here), one statistic I came across was that 88 percent of graduates say that they look for employers with social responsibility values that reflect their own. And here's another one: 86 percent say they would consider leaving an employer whose values no longer reflect their own.
These figures come from a survey – Millennials at work – carried out in 2008 by PricewaterhouseCoopers into workplace expectations and attitudes. The graduates it interviewed were predominantly those starting its own programmes, although it did get responses from some others.
Restricted sample maybe, but it got me thinking. If graduates do rate what they see as ethical companies so highly, then what – if anything – are companies doing on their careers sites and sections to show their approach to CR issues?
My guess would be that when push comes to shove, CR isn't a make-or-break issue for graduates, particularly in the current climate. However, the notion of green recruiting has been around for a bit and it might be unwise for companies to ignore the chance to use their careers sites to show what they're doing about CR – and not just about environmental issues.
And so to some sites!
Here's a (very) quick look at a more-or-less random selection of careers sites and sections.
- Tesco There's a little CR information in Tesco's graduate site and CR-related initiatives also crop up in the employee profiles; the info is less prominent (but more integrated?) than in the company's general careers site which has a Community section, as well as a link to the CR section in the careers sub navigation
- Innocent This is a company that does have a brand that draws on its ethical stance ("Innocent is about trying to prove that there is profit in ethics and trying to do the right thing"); the cute and friendly web site helps to promote this. And it does definitely make a thing of its values in its careers section – "how we believe in doing things" is the first thing you'll see
- However, what you won't find here is acknowledgement of the recent investment in the company by Coca-Cola - not even in the bits that talk about the entrepreneurial ambitions of the company. To see the consumer backlash on the issue, you'll have to dig down into the blog archive
- BAT Nothing much in the BAT careers section, unless you count the employment prinicples. And this content feels like a policy document – it doesn't really read like it's intended for an external audience, let alone prospective employees. On the plus side, the section does link to the "Operating responsibly" section of the web site
- Vodafone A small section under Why Vodafone focuses on the obvious things and is engagingly written, perhaps that's all that's needed?
- UPS One of the sponsors of Earth Day, UPS has some brief CR info on its US site, mostly focusing on community and its values as an employer
- Unilever There's no obvious CR information flagged up in the navigation for the Unilever careers section, but a CR perspective is integrated into many aspects of the content – from a case study teaser, to the description of head office, to the information about "how we work". It's also worth noticing the good use of internal links to promote relevant content elsewhere in the site
It makes sense that coverage of CR issues in careers sections should vary, because this isn't a case of one size fits all. It depends on the degree to which CR is a part of the company brand. And plastering the careers section with CR-friendly messaging that's out of kilter with the rest of the site and other company communications is a sure way of attracting accusations of greenwash.
Of course, CR shouldn't take over – this is the careers area we're talking about after all – but I think there should be something there, something that speaks to the careers audience. And for some companies, where CR is close to the very heart of their brand, it could be a real chance to stand out from the crowd.
This the kind of thing I think I'd be interested in seeing:
- CR info that's integrated into the section
Bolted-on CR content risks looking like box ticking at best, greenwash at worst. If a CR perspective is integrated into the section content, it's going to look more integrated into the company. Where this could happen: in a discussion of what the company does and what it stands for; employee profiles (like this one from Tesco); benefits information (where appropriate); explanation of hiring practices (where appropriate)
- Consistent messaging
Any CR-related messaging should be consistent with other communications – the corporate web site and beyond
- Examples of values in action
Too often, values statements can feel like internal policy documents rather than things that could be of any relevance to an external audience. And once you've read a few, it can sometimes be pretty hard to see the difference in how companies are positioning themselves. Better, to demonstrate briefly what these values might mean in practice – and in natural language rather than stilted corporate jargon
- Tricky issues addressed up front
The careers section isn't the place for tackling contentious issues. However, completely ignoring those issues if they do exist feels disingenuous. Perhaps the answer's an explanatory sentence in the description about the company's approach, with a link to deeper information elsewhere in the site
- Something that goes beyond the obvious
For those with CR at the heart of their brand, this is a chance to show that it's about more than the environment or supporting good causes
- A link to the CR section
While you'd hope graduates researching a company would have the nous to look beyond the careers section of the corporate web site, make it easy for them, with a prominent link to the CR section, along with a brief explanation of what they'll find there
- Links to other relevant company sites or blogs
When companies fail to connect up their online communications, it's a real missed opportunity. For example, I would have liked to seen a link to Cadbury's Fairtrade blog in the relevant place in the Cadbury careers section
Anything else, anyone?
Some more reading:
Recruiting goes green (timely post from Corporate Eye)
Any statements made in these blog posts are the views of the blogger and do not necessarily represent the views of The Group.