10 questions for the climate: How to recognize sustainable companies and an environmentally conscious workplace
Job hunting is a challenge in itself: scanning job portals for suitable positions, reading numerous job advertisements, adapting CVs, and presenting yourself in the best light. It all takes time and energy. You also have certain requirements for a new job, which can complicate things: not only should the salary fit, but also the corporate culture and the option for further development.
What does this mean in turn for the job market? Not only do job seekers have to look for a suitable position, but companies also have to present themselves as an attractive employer. But what exactly makes an employer attractive today?
Being a sustainable employer is very popular
In addition to flexibility and creative freedom, sustainability is a key factor for job seekers these days. The term "climate quitting" hit the headlines recently: this is what it is called when employees quit their job because it is not ecofriendly. Conversely, what does this mean for employers?
For them, it means that a corporate culture must be more than just company parties and snacks. Everyday work life and employer branding must answer the questions that interest job seekers: how progressive is a company? What is its perspective on the energy transition? And what role does sustainability play and how is it practiced?
In the following list, we show how jobseekers can recognize sustainable companies and which aspects employers should adjust accordingly.
10 questions to recognize a sustainable employer
1. Does the company serve a "bigger purpose"?
It is no longer enough for employees to have a job with a good salary and 30 days of vacation. Flexible working hours and work-life balance are at the top of the wish list. But that does not mean that today's workers are lazy. In fact, the job is particularly important to most of them. So, it is no wonder that companies that offer jobs with a "bigger purpose" are in demand on the job market.
The example of climate quitters shows that sustainability plays a key role for future generations. Companies whose core business contributes to achieving climate goals and promotes a sustainable future therefore have great opportunities on the job market.
2. Was the first interview by video or telephone?
Every company designs its application process individually. Sometimes, it is two interviews, sometimes three, sometimes the recruiting department starts with the first interview, at other times the managing director is directly involved.
An indication of efficient, progressive, and sustainable companies can be whether the first meeting takes place directly on site or via video chat or telephone call. The personal impression on site may often be the decisive factor, and yet the more ecofriendly option online or via telephone is sufficient for initial orientation on both sides – not to mention the fact that both parties save two (car) journeys.
3. Is working from home an option?
Working from home is no longer a rarity in working life. For jobs where working from home is possible, there are various home office models that differ from company to company. In general, there are various reasons for working from home. Whether it is a very long commute or the fact that certain tasks can be completed better and faster at home, as there is less distraction from colleagues.
However, as the reference to the long commute already shows, working from home also has the effect of saving on numerous (car) journeys and is therefore an ecofriendly alternative to the daily commute. The basic offer of home office models, whether full or partial, is therefore a factor by which a sustainable employer can be recognized.
4. What partnerships does a company have?
Who does a potential employer work with? Are they partnering with companies that operate sustainably? As part of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and ESG (Environmental Social Governance) criteria, companies have a responsibility to make decisions regarding the environment, sustainability, and social issues. If a company is aware of these issues and addresses them, this is another factor that speaks for sustainability and foresight.
5. Can the company boast any special awards or certifications?
If you only want to shortlist sustainable companies as potential employers, you should take a closer look at the relevant websites. Are there any special awards for environmental awareness? Can a company provide meaningful certifications or memberships, such as the Association of Energy Market Innovators (Bundesverband neue Energiewirtschaft, bne) or the German Sustainable Building Council (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Nachhaltiges Bauen, DGNB)? It is worth taking a second look at a website, as some companies do not advertise their awards quite so boldly.
6. Does the company have a photovoltaic system on its roof?
Another indication of an employer's environmental awareness is if they generate the electricity they need for their business themselves using a photovoltaic system. This saves resources and is a long-term investment, both in the company and in a sustainable future.
7. Everyday office life: What about waste separation, printing, etc.?
It often starts on a small scale: does a company separate its waste? Is the printer used unnecessarily often or only when it is important? Are there plastic bottles, glass bottles or simply a water dispenser in the kitchen?
Of course, it is not a question of being pedantic or judging every little piece of evidence of sustainability. And yet, overall, everyday office life can be an indication of the extent to which environmental awareness is important to a company.
8. How many business trips take place? Are they by plane or train?
Depending on the industry and profession, there may be several business trips a year. Flights cannot always be avoided, but a company's environmental awareness is also reflected in whether domestic trips are always made by plane, train, or car.
If you have to travel a lot and it is important to you to make your own business trips as sustainable as possible, you could mention this openly at the job interview or with the HR department to discuss options together. A sustainable employer will be open to suggestions.
9. Does the company rely on electromobility?
Especially for sales departments and technical specialists who regularly visit customers or construction sites, a company cannot avoid traveling by car. The question in this case is what type of vehicle they use. Does the company use petrol cars as company cars, or does it already rely on electromobility? The latter would be another crucial step towards a sustainable future.
10. Are there vegetarian and vegan options at the company party?
Anyone who eats a vegetarian or vegan diet is doing so to protect the climate, among other reasons. Meat and dairy farming accounts for almost 70 percent of all agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and more than 5 percent of total emissions in Germany. Those who do without animal products are therefore reducing their ecological footprint.
Of course, this is not about forcing a certain lifestyle on people. It is about creating awareness and options – and a company can also do this by offering additional vegetarian or vegan dishes at company celebrations.
Looking for a sustainable employer for a new challenge? ENVIRIA is hiring
ENVIRIA's vision is a radically simple energy transition: we offer a holistic system that makes it easy and effortless for companies to switch to photovoltaics – from planning to maintenance. Would you like to become part of our team and make your contribution to the expansion of renewable energies? Then apply for a job at ENVIRIA now. We look forward to hearing from you!
Tatjana Müller is Content Manager at ENVIRIA and creates a wide range of content and text formats relating to photovoltaics. She acquired her expertise in technical topics during years of working as an editor for the IT industry, which made her an expert in solar topics, among other things. As a content manager, she loves the creative editing of complex content just as much as podcasts and train journeys through Europe.