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How to Know If a Company Really Is Green

Being green is trendy, even in corporate America. An environmentally conscious job hunter can’t afford to buy into a company’s eco-friendly image — at least, not without vetting that image first. Don’t let yourself be “green-washed” by effective marketing. Instead, take your time to review information about your potential new job, particularly policies and results regarding sustainability, energy efficiency, and carbon emissions reductions. Better to be disappointed before you change jobs than after you’ve been successfully duped into a career that won’t satisfy you.

Take the time to explore this topic as much as you can upfront. Although your efforts may not uncover the whole truth, hopefully you get enough of a realistic picture of the company that you feel comfortable working there or you see the writing on the wall before you sign the employment contract.

Don’t limit yourself to reviewing policies stated on the company’s Web site, or even corporate partnerships and R&D investments. In the process of ascertaining what your target company stands for, look at third-party assessments of the company and its work:

  • Awards and recognition: Do you see any evidence that the company has recent accolades from the media, its industry, or other organizations?

  • Affiliations with recognizable organizations: Does the company have a green business certification icon or a membership with an association known for sustainability or social responsibility?

  • Ratings on sites that evaluate performance: Climate Counts offers a score card on companies’ efforts to address climate change. If you don’t see your target company there, read up on other companies in the same genre to see what actions they are taking to become more sustainable. Then download the Climate Counts Criteria to see if your target company is making any of the efforts listed.

  • Corporate social responsibility or sustainability reports: A number of companies are now publishing reports about their efforts to become more sustainable or socially responsible. You may be able to find a link to this sort of report on the company’s Web site. If you aren’t successful, do a search by using one or more of these keyword options: company name + “sustainability report” or “company name” + “corporate social responsibility report” or “company name” + “environmental report” to pull up a report. You may also want to check out the Social Funds database to see if the site has a report for your target company.

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