Do You Care If Your Employer Is Green or Charitable?

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I’ve recently started getting press releases from companies touting how green or how charitable they are. They’re not just honking their horns as good corporate citizens; they’re claiming these strategies help them recruit.

Take this notice I got from Deloitte & Touche yesterday. It began by noting the coming “talent crunch” due to the tidal wave of baby boomers supposedly shifting into rocking chairs, and helpfully adds its interest in hiring young workers. Then it says:

A new survey of Gen Y by Deloitte & Touche USA LLP (Deloitte) reveals that companies with compelling community involvement programs could receive a serious windfall when it comes to recruiting workers ages 18-26. In fact, nearly two-thirds of respondents (62%) in Deloitte’s 2007 Volunteer IMPACT survey said they would prefer to work for companies that let their people volunteer their workplace skills and knowledge to nonprofits in the community.

I got this one from a company called Genesys, which describes itself as a “leader in the multimedia collaboration space,” whatever the heck that means. Its release, titled “Genesys Customer Survey Says More than Half of Respondents Now Have Green Programs in Their Workplace and Find Meeting Travel to Be #1 Polluter,” states:

• More than half of respondents (56%) say that their company has put policies into place to help preserve our natural environment

• A full 88% believe that car and air travel to meetings have the largest negative impact on the environment–far larger than paper and plastic goods used in the course of physical meetings

• 65% believe that using web collaboration for virtual meetings to reduce travel can make a significant positive impact on the environment.

• A preference for conducting virtual meetings from one’s office at work (45%) won out over a preference to meet from a home office (33%), showing that people still seek personal interaction although not necessarily where meetings are concerned.

Genesys even adds a link to a section on its web site that can help you “calculate the cost of attending a meeting in-person, in terms of CO2 emissions and travel costs.” (Ah. Now I have a vague idea of what Genesys does: it must sell technology and services for virtual meetings.)

Anyway, it got me to thinking. As much sleep as I lose about the acres of forestry my employer dessimates with every printing, would I quit my job over it? Would I, in a job interview, make a point of asking if the employer ran its copiers on flax-seed oil or stocked its bathrooms with recycled toilet paper? Does the flier in the elevator bank advertising some sort of “clean up New York day” make me feel better that I work here?

The answer, for me, is not really. Like a lot of people I know of my generation (X, for the record), I care about the environment and about conducting organized acts of kindness. It’s just that I care more about parenting my kid and paying the mortgage and getting my assignments done on time. Living green and charitably feels to me like a personal issue. I realize my corporation has a far bigger impact on earth than my household does, but somehow it feels hypocritical to demand that my employer mulch its coffee grounds when I don’t, either.

I don’t know. What do you all think? LaDawn, Gerry? (Hi, friends. Nice to be back.)

UPDATE: Here’s yet another “green” pitch from staffing company Adecco, in my inbox this morning. According to a survey it conducted with Harris Interactive:

• 1/3 of Americans would be more inclined to work for a green company compared to an organization that does not make conscious efforts to promote socially and environmentally friendly practices.

• About half of employed adults (52%) think their company should do more
to be environmentally friendly.

• While about 7 in 10 employed adults (69%) know that their company has an environmental policy, only about a third (32%) knows what that policy is.

• Employed men are more likely than their female counterparts to say they know their company’s environmental policy (35% men vs. 28% women).