Green Recruiting: Building Your Environmental Employment Brand

You would have to have had your head stuck in the sand to not be aware of the intense interest that the environment holds in today’s political and social debates. While candidates of all generations have begun evaluating potential employers based on their “greenness,” few in recruiting have leveraged this hot topic in recruitment communications and activities.

For some unaccountable reason, recruiting managers and leaders almost universally fail to implement a process that regularly discovers “job switch” decision criteria used by the best and brightest, and this latest oversight is nothing more than history repeating itself once again.

Because so many recruiting leaders fail to do their research, the vast majority of employers underestimate how important a company’s degree of “greenness” is to potential hires. It is now becoming important for firms capable of touting their role as good environmental citizens to formally manage perception around environmental issues through employment branding activities.

In addition, individual recruiters need to make the firm’s environmental stance a critical element of their sales pitch to potential applicants and candidates. The time to implement what I call a “green recruiting” strategy is now!

Environmental Sustainability Goes Wide

Companies like Honda, S.C. Johnson, Goldman Sachs, Starbucks, Patagonia, Timberland, and GE have successfully used their environmentally friendly policies to sell their product and gain media exposure.

However, until recently, few firms have made a concerted effort to leverage the company’s environmental stance as a critical point in recruiting pitches. Firms like Google, Timberland, and yes, even old-school General Electric have led the way by undertaking major efforts to make being environmentally friendly a critical element of their employment brand. Google, the world’s only “recruiting machine,” leads the way not just in its environmental practices but also in publicizing their environmental record and approach. Like many emerging green companies, Google has hired a director who coordinates corporate environmental efforts in an attempt to match their corporate business strategy with their environmental efforts.

Some sample programs at Google that support environmental issues include:

  • $5,000 subsidies for employees buying hybrid cars (Timberland offers $3,000)
  • Company dining facilities that serve organic sustainable foods
  • Charitable contributions to organizations that fight global warming
  • On-site farmers markets
  • On-site composting of food waste
  • Use of green fuels and solar power
  • Fully subsidized employee bus pools for commuting employees

Google has developed so many green programs that even former Vice President Al Gore, producer of the controversial documentary on global warming called An Inconvenient Truth is proud. It’s no coincidence that Al Gore has been an advisor to the company for many years.

While some companies adopt the grassroots approach to going green, others start at the top and work down. General Electric is one of a small handful of companies that have an environmental effort driven by their chief executive officer, Jeff Immelt. If you watch television or read national magazines, you might recall seeing one of hundreds of ecomagination advertisements GE has spent millions on in recent years to “greenwash” their image. The ecomagination campaign is one of the boldest approaches to capture intangible value by touting environmental efforts in play by any global company.

Day in and day out, they are capturing that value by selling more product to environmentally conscious consumers and tapping candidate pools that once would have written them off as the destroyers of the environment, using the Hudson and Housatonic Rivers as living examples.

Reasons Why Firms Must Practice Green Recruiting

The tipping point for environmental consciousness varies around the world, but for many Americans it was the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. In one day, an iconic American company had its reputation slaughtered. Sales were affected, employee pride was affected, as was their ability to recruit on college campuses around the world. For years, Exxon and their energy industry peers had to wage an environmental branding war in recruiting. But that was then, and this is now.

The new thrust of green recruiting is proactive and focuses on making “greenness” a major element of your employment brand. Some of the reasons why green recruiting is becoming more essential include:

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  • Gen Y demands it. This generation has learned about the importance of the environment and recycling in classes since elementary school. They filter both product purchasing and job selection choices with their green mindset.
  • College grads demand it. Al Gore is a hero on most campuses. Students, while they are on campus, demand that every aspect of their campus life leave a minimal “environmental footprint.” On my campus, San Francisco State University, even the most conservative of all schools, the College of Business is developing a “sustainability” major to satisfy the student demand for integrating business and the environment. It has become so important that even starting salaries take a back seat behind “greenness” when students evaluate potential employers.
  • Many job candidates care about it. Although no one has yet quantified the impact that being environmentally friendly has on recruits, if you ask candidates whether working for an environmentally friendly company is important to them, a vast majority will respond with an affirmative.
  • Global candidates can be passionate about it. Some countries around the world are extremely passionate about the environment (Germany, Australia, and Finland to name a few). As a result, if you expect to recruit the best from around the world, you must be prepared to meet a growing set of eco-expectations as an employer.

Action Steps to Implement Green Recruiting

There are many things that recruiting leaders can do to implement a strategy, including the following 17 action steps:

  1. Identify candidate decision criteria. If you can’t show that a large number of quality applicants consider a firm’s environmental record as one of their primary criteria for selecting a job, you’ll never get senior management to buy in to a major green recruiting effort. Start by holding focus groups at industry conferences to identify what “green” factors would be important to individuals seeking a new job. Next, ask candidates during interviews and on the website to list their decision criteria. During orientation, ask those who accepted the job what criteria they used to make the decision. Finally, contact those who rejected your offers three to six months down the line to identify positives and negatives. Use this information to modify your recruiting processes and focus.
  2. Benchmark. Search the Web, benchmark with college recruiters, and work with recruiting consultants to identify the best practices of other firms. Use this competitive analysis to gauge your success and to plan your future actions.
  3. Your website. Make sure that both “what you do” and the results of those efforts are prominent on your corporate careers website. Include your recycling statistics, as well as whether you are carbon neutral, limit greenhouse gases, or win environmental awards. Include narrative or video profiles of your environmentally conscious employees. If your company policies allow, link your corporate jobs site on major (but primarily nonpolitical) environmental websites.
  4. Be talked about. If you have a strong environmental record, it’s important to get “written up” in business, professional, and industry publications as well as in newspapers and on TV. Work with the PR department to identify which of your practices are most likely to be appealing to the media and designate an individual to be available for interviews. It’s also critical to constantly scan the Web to identify and quickly counter any “negative” comments on your environmental record (Starbucks has done an excellent job but Apple is currently struggling in this area).
  5. Recruitment advertising. Advertise in magazines that candidates who are sensitive to the environment are likely to read. Highlight a few “eye-catching” facts and any environmental awards you might have won in your recruitment ads. If you use brochures or paper recruiting materials, make sure it’s from recyclable stock and that it says so on the document.
  6. Job descriptions. Make sure that, where possible, job descriptions for high-volume hiring positions include responsibilities for minimizing negative environmental impacts. This is critical because if they don’t see being environmentally friendly integrated into “every job” at the company, they might see your “green recruiting” as merely a PR effort. If you’re really serious, include knowledge of environmental impacts under the skills required section of your job descriptions.
  7. Interviews. Provide managers with “green” fact sheets to use during interviews. If you are really aggressive, provide candidates with a side-by-side comparison showing how your firm’s environmental record is superior to other firms they might be considering.
  8. Sourcing. One of the best ways to strengthen your environmental image is to hire lots of environmentally friendly employees who can spread your “green” story through word-of-mouth. Have your recruiting team identify the sources that produce the highest-quality environmentally friendly candidates. Source at environmental organizations (i.e., Sierra Club). Also, recruit at environmental events and use subscription lists from green publications or email and direct mail recruiting.
  9. Employer referrals. Having your employees spreading the word will help both recruiting and product sales. If you have the resources, proactively seek out employees who are highly visible in environmental circles and ask them specifically to talk up your firm, to seek out candidates, and to provide you with names.
  10. Awards. Winning awards for excellence is always a major element of building an employment brand, so obviously winning “environmental” awards should be a major element of your strategy.
  11. Advisory group. Ask the advice of six to eight environmentally friendly employees, measuring the quality of the message you’re sending and how to reach and convince more applicants of your strong “green” record.
  12. Products. Obviously, applicants want to know that the products they are helping to produce are environmentally friendly. This means putting pressure on product advertising and marketing to include the fact that your products are eco-friendly in your product ads and packaging. In some industries, how you treat vendors and outsourced work can be important (i.e., Starbucks, Nike).
  13. Value statements. Make sure that your corporate goals, values, and even corporate business objectives include environmental elements.
  14. Annual report. Because some applicants take the time to read your annual report, make sure it includes sections that highlight your environmental record and the fact that you recruit environmentally friendly employees. If your firm uses bio-diesel fuel, pays fair market value to suppliers, is energy-efficient, or if it buys “carbon offsets,” highlight these selling points.
  15. Employee benefits. Consider adding holistic health options, paid time to volunteer for environmental causes, matching donations to green causes, and support for alternative transportation options to your benefit package.
  16. Reward criteria. Include this factor in the performance appraisal system for all employees. Obviously, use it as a hiring criteria, but also use it as a critical element in promotions, bonuses, and pay increases.
  17. Develop metrics and rewards. Because whatever you measure improves and whenever you add rewards to the equation the behavior improves even faster, your green recruiting effort must have metrics and rewards tied to it. Some of the metrics you want to include are the percentage of candidates aware of your strong environmental record, the number who reject offers because of a poor record, and the percentage of new hires who say your environmental record was one of their top-five reasons for accepting the offer. Hold post exit interviews with your top performers to identify whether environmental factors contributed to their exit.

Final Thoughts

Anyone familiar with sales knows that you need to appeal to things that are on the “top of the mind” to your target audience. The same holds true for recruiting.

Like it or not, environmental issues are on most everyone’s mind, so if your firm has a competitive advantage in this area (or it can develop one quickly), it’s incumbent on both individual recruiters and recruiting managers to integrate that message into your recruiting processes and your employment brand. This is especially true if you don’t pay at the top of scale, if you are in a crummy location, or if you’re not a well-known company.

Green recruiting is a chance to differentiate yourself in a recruiting marketplace where standing out from the crowd is already extremely difficult. Incidentally, not only does green recruiting improve your chances of attracting and selling candidates, it’s also your chance as a recruiter to do your part to improve the environment by showing senior management the dollar impact it has on recruiting, retention, and product sales.

About the Author

DJS campus headshot

Dr. John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions. He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on www.ERE.Net. He lives in Pacifica, California.

  • Marc Nolan

    I must tell you that IMHO (18 years as a TRUE Professional Services person) I have never seen such a blatent ‘spin’ on your so called ‘article’.

    I see NO statistics mentioned about your ‘many job candidates care about it’- (what FACTS support this and where was it done?) What were these schools you write about (I can probably guess) or are you just taking liberty with an ‘opinion?’

    Every bit of your article- is driven by one thing- YOUR agenda to push a ‘GREEN’ marketplace (i.e. Al Core being a hero on campus’- really- and where is this exactly?) Your attempt to place the ‘conservative San Francisco State University further shows your ‘agenda’.

    By the way- the Exxon issue- was caused by a DRUNK CAPTAIN OF THE SHIP and INCOMPENTENT STAFF but noticed that was left out of your article- so here is what happened according to the National Transportation Safety Board;
    1). The third mate failed to properly maneuver the vessel, possibly due to fatigue and excessive workload
    2). The master (Captain Joseph Hazelwood) failed to provide navigation watch, possibly due to the impairment of alchol
    3). Exxon Shipping Company failed to supervise the master and provide a rested and sufficient crew for the Exxon Valdez
    4). The US Coast Guard failed to provide an effective vessel traffic system
    5). Effective pilot and escort services were lacking- and no one who was hired as a ‘green person of interest’ could have stopped this- no matter how many ‘green people were hired’.

    I think maybe we should spend some time citing what candidates that I staff for (High-end ERP and CIO candidates)since I speak to them DAILY.

    They site a need to work on exciting projects- where a collaborative ‘environment’ takes place- which challenges the person to be better (not what type of wheat bran did they bring to work) and yes how much GREEN will they make ($$$$$ for those of us on the other side of GREEN recruiting).

    I think when I have to negoiate with ‘Green candidates’ I’ll use a new way to help them when it comes to how much they want to make. I’ll simply tell them that we can’t afford to pay them that high salary (or hourly rate) because the client has decided to take the money from them- to make the whole world better- and thus safe us all- and if this is alright with them, we’ll let the company just take it out of their paycheck. Silly? Yes, but then that’s how the people would react that I deal with.

    I’ll bet when I pose that answer- the ‘Green’ of the color of the money- will prevail over the green effects you are espousing. Any takers in a 30 day ‘survey’ where each of us will ask this VERY important question- and to see who is really ‘green driven?’

  • Sunil Brara


    The world is taking small steps although long overdue towards a ‘greener’world.Yes,
    hesitatingly and slowly with all kinds of trade
    offs but for sure.So all ideas even if way off
    should be welcome.Please do not be harsh even if
    you have the facts.Everyone can imagine how many
    companies would reject candidates on these
    grounds(forget discimination etc),candidates
    being truthful or investors not putting money in
    profitable ‘polluting’ companies..this list could go on and on.

    I wonder why only on fridays we find humor in
    various forums when most are in a happy state of
    mind and looking forward to enjoying the
    weekend.This article from the Michael Jordan of
    recruiting appearing on monday should result in
    getting away from ‘monday blues’and being more
    productive throuhout the week.

    Log on to and enjoy this:(Recruiting
    related as well)

    Humorist Brian Sack gives his take on the Paul
    Wolfowitz scandal at the World Bank.
    For laughs:Wofowitz and friends(1m:29 secs:18th

    So as not to spoil your fun,here are only hints
    about suggestions regarding better future
    prospects to Wolfowitz.

    ..cutting the last 60 years from his resume..
    ..forming consulting company with Donald
    Rumsfield doing ‘Reverse Consulting'(learn how
    it works)

    The world also needs a ‘Art Buchwald of

    Here’s +$1.99 explained: Practise what you
    Please log on to Dr Sullivan’s website.Click on
    publications and then on books.You can’t see the
    full list without registering (many
    columns..)But you can skip it.In any case a
    featured product which is a book(made of
    PAPER).These keep on changing some are for about
    $20 ..some around $150 etc but you can get an
    autograped book by paying $1.99 extra.

    Am I right,Dr Sullivan?

    My regards to all including the article’s


  • Tim Stanton

    I am having a hard time connecting this article with successful recruiting efforts. I talk with recruiting leaders every day and not one of them has mentioned that they lost a top candidate because they weren’t ‘green enough’ in the recycling sene, but they have lost them because they weren’t ‘green enough’ in the pay department.

    Perhaps because I’m not talking with prospects in San Francisco (the leading recycling community in the US) I don’t hear this, but I can’t fathom a top candidate not taking the next step in their career because a company doesn’t recycle, serve organic food or use ‘green fuels’ to power their offices.

    Perhaps I’m not close enough to my neices and nephews in college to know that they demand their future employers be ‘green enough’. I am close enough to know that they are concerned about many other political and economic issues but not one of them has ever mentioned this topic being a concern as they look to gain employment upon graduation. I am also close enough to know that Al Gore is not a hero to any of them (and no, they are not Republicans).

    I would agree with Marc that this article seems to be more of a political statement than truly focused on the market of recruiting. If there is data to backup the claims/statements I would love to see them. These forums are very useful and the articles thought provoking, let’s see some data and then make judgements on the validity of the article.

  • Michael Johnson (

    An individuals perception of a company is far more influenced by that company’s consumer branding efforts, PR strategy, etc. then they are through employment branding efforts (with the exception of those companies who’s branding efforts are directly tied to recruiting like the armed services for example).

    If your company has decided to take a ‘green’ position in the marketplace then that needs to translate somehow into your workplace. I don’t think it would make any sense for the recruiting department to be the only one’s telling a ‘green’ story about the company. However, if your company has decided that being ‘green’ is important and they’ve developed a workplace that reflects that (ex. organic foods in the cafeteria, money for buying a hybrid vehicle, etc.) than why not exploit that in your recruiting pitch? I don’t see it as any different than exploiting some other unique benefit a company might offer to it’s employees.

    It’s also important to understand who you are trying to attract to work for you. I’m not sure a kid coming out of Harvard with an MBA looking to join a hedge fund in NYC is going to be influenced in his employment decision by organic foods in the cafeteria. However, the same kid looking to work for a VC firm like Kleiner Perkins in Menlo Park should care about their ‘green’ position since they’re investing $100M into green technologies as a key component of their investment strategy.

  • Bob Lundblad

    No offense to the previous poster but if all you think about when someone says ‘green’ is money ($$$), then I’m afraid you’re missing the fact that ‘green’ as in sustainability and the environment has become quite mainstream – all you have to do is open your eyes and you’ll see it. Just a few samples of ‘greening’ below:

  • Stanley Florek


    Here are some of those crazy hippies that are making huge bets on Green technology:

    General Electric – $10 billion in revenue in 2005 from their EcoMagination product line.

    Boeing – The new 787 aircraft will use 20% less fuel than current models.

    ConocoPhillips – Developed carbon sequestration technology to clean emissions from new coal-fired electricity generation plants.

    Goldman Sachs – Has financed or leased over $50 million in commercial solar panel installations.

    Please don’t attack the messenger. As a charter member of generation Y and also a founder of an consulting firm focused on supporting environmentally-mindful organizations, I am working with companies and candidates on a daily basis who are making business decisions based on their personal values, a quality work environment, and yes, the degree of ‘green’ attributes of companies’ products and company culture. This trend may not have hit your sector or your candidate demographic yet, but it is coming, and for my candidate pool, it’s here today and we are winning our local battle for talent by riding its wave with integrity. It’s a huge opportunity to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the pack in our field.

    I was not an environmentalist before I got involved with the green tech space. I was more concerned with the national security risks associated with an imported oil supply chain. (There would have been no opportunity for a drunk captain to beach a billion dollar oil tanker and spend $2.5 billion on cleaning up the mess if we ran our electric grid and vehicles mostly based on solar, biomass, windpower, and high-capacity batteries.) I still don’t call myself an environmentalist – I am more of a ‘people-ist’ and understand that harsh and sometimes unacceptable tradeoffs are made when trees, land, and animals are favored over people and their livelihoods. But I find that people who do care about the environment are usually attuned to things I value in an employee – caring about something beyond themselves, including their teams and company goals, and an ability to work together effectively. These people want to do meaningful work that goes beyond making profits and enriching shareholders. They want to spend their energy on work that actually makes life better for themselves, their customers, and the world.

    Even if someone we hire is not all that environmentally concerned (we do make a consious effort not to filter people based on ideology on either the left or the right), we can talk to them them about exiting new technologies we are supporting or working with companies making them, like computer servers that use 75% less electricity, solar PV, windpower, plug-in electric hybrids, biofuels, tidal power, windpower, organic agriculture, green construction practices, and a host of other product innovations that came about because a visionary decided their life’s passion was to make something that was previously just a commodity into a environmentally restorative or people-healthy thing rather than a cheap commodity to be thrown away after 1 use and put in a landfill to live for another 10,000 years.

    Money is a measure of material value. But it is not the exclusive measure of Values. I respect anyone who finds their work meaningful and valuable to themselves, their community, and their children. Do we lose candidates for whom money trumps lower financial return in a specific position? Sure. But in that case, the talent marketplace worked – they wouldn’t have been aligned with our company’s mission. And in most cases there is no tradeoff – we can offer high rates for meaningful work with great organizations, because we know what our mission is and we have no trouble finding and hiring top talent because of it.


  • George Blomgren

    Marc, John does say: >>Anyone familiar with sales knows that you need to appeal to things that are on the ‘top of the mind’ to your target audience. The same holds true for recruiting.<< At the risk of overgeneralizing, the latest generation of workers do seem to have a keen social conscience and a strong interest in environmental issues. And coming up with a unique value proposition of interest to the workers you are trying to recruit is good employer branding. True, not every Millenial will be attracted by 'green recruiting,' but a significant number are likely to find this a unique and compelling twist.

  • Marc Nolan

    Thanks for opening my eyes! I noticed that in the Monster advertisement you have provided a WHOPPING 179 jobs in the ‘green world’ around the wind power jobs section (and half of them are admin slots).

    The rest of the article is focused on selling a person’s book. If we are going to do a ‘this for that’ I am happy to provide the readers with several articles as well- but remember, I did not start this ‘discussion’. I make no apologies to making money and feeding my family- and as a family we do our share of trying to make our lives better- I just don’t go around espousing how great I am and what I do!

    Let’s have a true discussion as I have asked about getting a survey done. Who can argue with that? It might really open some eyes from ‘facts’ generated, and not make generalizations- anybody can do that!

    I will pick-up my own survey- and start today interviewing those I interface on the high-end ERP side, and provide my response by the end of the month.

  • Bill Wager


    Get with it. We’ve got to think green, go green.
    The entire planet is at risk.

    The moment Al Gore invented the internet; we should all have known this.

    Let me tell you some of the things we do here, to play our part in the greening of the Earth:

    We offer carbon debits, that?s right, debits, because people who sell carbon credits often save trees.
    We recognize that trees are the single greatest producers of the deadly green house gas, carbon dioxide, so, for a moderate fee, we will destroy a tree in your name and send you a beautifully engraved plastic trophy commemorating your environmental awareness.

    Next, we eat steaks, lots and lots of steaks (hamburger too when we ain’t so flush)
    Cows are among the most flatulent of Darwin?s creatures and the second most prolific producers of the mortal gas. The New York Times once reported on the extreme environmental catastrophe hanging over the planet because of the increase in cattle ownership among poor Africans.
    So we eat the polluting, offensive, capitalist quadruped buggers whenever possible.

    Marc, we prevented the end of the world from Alar,DDT, the Comet Kahoutek, Global freezing, nuclear winters, sunspots, cell phones and innumerable other ‘catastrophes of the decade’ We’ll come through this too, if you make the sacrifices necessary to keep me gassed up.

    I’d tell you more but I have to go gas up now, A Hemi just drinks the stuff like hippies drink bottled water.

    Bill Wager
    Hunter Green
    40 Exchange Place
    New York, NY 10005 212-742-0990

  • Sunil Brara

    First, kindly permit me to state unambiguously that I have no political bias one way or the other as my last post probably antagonized some resulting in one stinging email to me from a very eminent contributor to this discussion. (See 1)I had said that every small step towards ‘green environment’mattered and did take some names in a lighter vein!

    Yes,all those who want a better world for future generations(our children..) would appreciate Al Gore’s efforts in this regard.For that matter George W. Bush, as Texas Governor pushed for and signed a renewable energy portfolio mandate in 1999…. Today, thanks to Governor Bush?s market intervention, Texas is the biggest wind state in America.(See 2)


    I live in Shimla,a hill station in North India which until about two decades was famous for always having ‘White X’Mas’ but because of illegal large scale felling of trees and construction it may snow as early as Nov or as late as March or not at all or very heavy at that!You never know.


    Let me commend Dr.Sullivan for bringing this subject to the recruiting arena.It is good that Gen Y and College Grads demand it,job candidates care and Global candidates are passionate about it.True the numbers may be small now but would continue to grow.

    It makes us aware of the importance of ‘green recruiting’ which leads to trying out various small though significant innovative ways to bring it about.

    Ecomagination advertisements by companies make sound business sense and impact positively on the bottomline but companies for long have associated with causes and have as well as are spending millions.They are also spending millions on subsidies and other facilities but for them millions are like peanuts to Georgians.Every day when their stock goes north or south by many millions they don’t bat an eyelid!(See 3)

    Let’s talk billions and please let’s have statistics as they relate to total earnings etc. I/We all look forward to this,DR.Sullivan.

    ‘Give charity until it pinches’,said Mother Teresa.(And this is a cause affecting us and not charity)

    I agree with the author that rewards and subsidies should be given to employees who contribute in some way to the ‘greening’ of environment.

    But how do we recruit a ‘green candidate’?What about the laws?The discrimination aspect.

    I think that irrespective of being ‘green or not’ a new hire would abide by the policies of the company in this regard.Perhaps a clause in the agreement about it can be added .

    PROF.WANGARI MAATHAI:Planting 1 Billion trees

    (founder of the Green Belt Movement and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate)?When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope.?

    I salute her as would everyone and hope that her plans for planting and (later on sustaining) one billion trees in 2007 under the auspices of United Nations Environment Program is a success.

    How many of the companies as mentioned in the article and discussions have registered at UNEP
    and pledeged to plant(please give numbers)and then planted trees so far?

    How much in percentage terms have their contributions been to non controversial green groups or movements etc?


    We cannot turn back the clock on globalization and reverse technological advancement.The world today is totally interdependant.We have to be pragmatic.Also livilihoods should not be affected.Just a few examples.

    The Netherland companies in 2005 earned $23 billions from horticulture exports. flowers, please.

    What about jeans,canned goods etc etc flying all over the world and transported by various modes to the remotest parts/villages!How much fuel is being burned?

    Yes,localization wherever possible is also taking place.


    In the article/discussions some statistics have been provided regarding certain companies.Also a name.

    Moderators: I may,plese,be given the permission to answer.

    *General Electric – $10 billion in revenue in 2005 from their EcoMagination product line

    It is good that it is happening.But in 2006 it’s revenue was $ 163.391 billions.

    Some other facts:

    GE has a history of large-scale air and water pollution… is currently listed as the fourth-largest corporate producer of air pollution. with more than 4.4 million pounds per year of toxic chemicals released into air… been implicated in the creation of toxic waste. …(wikipedia)

    New York Times to observe that, ‘while General Electric’s increased emphasis on clean technology will probably result in improved products and benefit its bottom line, Mr. Immelt’s credibility as a spokesman on national environmental policy is fatally flawed because of his company’s intransigence in cleaning up its own toxic legacy.(See 4)

    *Boeing – The new 787 aircraft will use 20% less fuel than current models

    Yes,That is no meann achievement and lot of expenses must have gone into R&D but it also is good business sense to cut costs.But

    Researchers at the University of Massachusetts have listed Boeing as the thirteenth-largest corporate producer of air pollution in the United States.(There’s more at Wikipedia)

    *ConocoPhillips – Developed carbon sequestration technology to clean emissions from new coal-fired electricity generation plants.

    Commendable without doubt.But

    A recent University of Massachusetts study has ranked ConocoPhillips third among U.S. corporate producers of air pollution. According to the researchers, ConocoPhillips facilities release more than eight million pounds of toxic chemicals annually into the air….implicated..
    (There’s more)

    Yes,Of late it is taking more mesures,I agree.

    *Goldman Sachs – Has financed or leased over $50 million in commercial solar panel installations

    What’s this $ 50 million compared to it’s net earnings for the year ended Nov 24,2006 which stood at $ 9.54 billions(net revenue:$ 37.67 billion)!!


    *Spread awareness
    *reward innovations and those who abide by it.
    *Avoid relocation.
    *Try to have employees working out of homes.
    *Have max video conferences etc
    etc,etc,one can come up with any no of ways

    small but sure steps towards ‘greening’.

    I am sure that Bill Wager would come out with a blistering reply but then I love one of his company’s guiding principle which says:

    Search technology is no substitute for looking someone in the eye.

    I mean no disrespect to any member and thank you all for being patient as well as tolerant towards me.

    my warmest regards to all and most all who come back to work after celebrating the independance day.

    1.From an author,a patent holder of sophisticated software,25 years exp,on a national advisory council,has 11 implementations behind him,praised by a leading public figure.This is not from the profiles at ERE or LinkedIN but by googling that I found.

    I was accused of having political agenda and more over where was my outcry over…Yes,I was able to convince him otherwise and now understand each other.

    2.Article by Thomas Friedman of NYT ‘The power of Green’ April 15,2007

    3.’CRASH’ by Mihir Bose details the way the stock markets move from one country to another 24/7.Written in the aftermath of ’87 crash,20 years back.Today we also have the internet to reckon with.Couple of facts or rumors can lead to …

    4.’Talking Green, Acting Dirty.’ New York Times 12 June 2005

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    Here’s a marketing take on this: Ecological concerns are growing, global warming is real, and you will continue to see more and more press about these issues as we move into an election year.

    Translation: People are listening, and to many, they want to do whatever they can to help ‘conserve the planet’ or ‘be green’, etc. Evidence: ‘Live Earth’ will be broadcasting this weekend (7/7) as a 24-hr concert in cities on all seven continents.

    If savvy corporate recruiting departments can leverage this green-wave to their benefit, then go for it. No one marketing technique or campaign will lure *all* potential customers (or in this case, candidates), but betting on green in today’s day and age is pretty safe. However, keep in mind that you don’t want to sway *all* candidates or consumers – it’s too expensive, and it’s the reason previous generations of CRM failed. The goal is to sway population behavior at the most reasonable cost (and people are already talking about ‘green’ all the time anyway.)

    This is as true for consumer products as it is recruiting. If your washing machine uses less water, let the market know. If you’re vehicle burns less gasoline, let the market know. Likewise, if your corporate hq is put together eco-friendly (i.e. Adobe), let the market know.

    Speaking to a market’s growing concerns can serve as a short-term competitive differentiator . . . so leverage what people are already talking about to your advantage.

  • Deborah Jones

    I am very late on this thread but just now had time to read it.

    Companies are ‘going green’ because it serves two purposes:

    1. Risk Management
    The mere concept of global warming is now being used by the legal industry to sue almost any industry or company that can even remotely be connected to it. Companies are simply responding to manage risk.

    2. Creating a market for products
    Just like a market was created for say, Jell-o, companies are always looking for ways to connect their product to the next big trend.

    We’ve already seen this ‘green’ stuff come and go before. I believe Ted Danson (actor) predicted the end would come if we did not take care of our mother earth in ten years…about oh, 25 years ago.

    Look folks, mother earth will do what comes naturally and we’re just along for the ride. Buying special light bulbs and fawning over ‘green’ musicians isn’t gonna make any difference. And if we have a candidate who will shun ‘non-green’ companies, well, I think there are plenty more who will step into the slot vacated by him or her.

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    I don’t believe Dr. Sullivan intended this to be a forum for us non-scientists to debate over whether global warming exists or not. Either you can read the research (review the data) and believe it exists . . . or believe that it is a big conspiracy. Either way, our assessment is part of free speech.

    However, Dr. Sullivan recommended that it’s likely a good move to incorporate it into your corporate employment brand. That’s pretty good advice today.

  • Deborah Jones

    I did not mean to imply that global warming is not happening…I simply do not know if it is or not. If it is, I am not sure that man can do anything about it, hence, I am not sure that the concept can be solidly connected to a recruitment strategy…that’s all I was saying.

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    Although the results are not in yet, I initially wondered what companies sponsored ‘Live Earth’ – and of the companies that sponsored the event, how many were technology companies? Why do I ask? – because technology companies aren’t known to be associated with the climate crisis, so it might be interesting just to see.

    Then I found the following site:

    Official Partners:
    MSN (yeah, I can’t stand these guys either!)
    Smart (Car Mfgr – I saw TONS of these tiny cars in Paris)
    Philips (Electronics Mfgr)
    Pepsi (We all know this one!)
    esurance (yeah, this one surprised me!)
    Stony Yogurt
    Stonyfield Farm
    Verisign (tech firm)
    Absolut (we probably all know this one, too!)

    There are a bunch of other companies under the categories of ‘supporting partners’, ‘campaign partners’, ‘international/ngo partners’, etc. It looks like there are 11 pure tech firms who sponsored the event.

    I also thought to myself, if it would matter if I saw a company there that had a recruiter on-site? Maybe they’d be giving out business cards, or something promotional (earth-friendly, of course). What if Adobe was there? (I mention this company because they are in Dr. Sullivan’s area of San Jose, CA) Would it matter? Well, in all honesty, I think it might. I would respect a company that was there – it’s not to say I’d definitely get hired, but I’d have a good impression of their products and employment brand. It’s just up to us as individuals. The Areon Chair was used as a competitive advantage during the dot-com craze, so maybe a ‘green’ brand can help during today’s talent crunch.?.

  • Marc Nolan

    Well here we are back on this subject (but remember where it was started and the overall asessment from ‘Dr. Sullivan’ as to why we should ALL go green- or at the very least have a ‘green strategy’

    This really does remind me that this forum (and others I seek out) sometimes gets posts from so-called ‘experts’ by attending this show- or that webinar- then feel it is their obligation to enlighten us on these ‘facts’ (maybe some of you might want to actually read Bernie Goldberg’s book- ‘Crazy’s to the Left of me Wimps to the Right’- where he adresses how many times in the past 50 years- we have been treated with the global warming- global coldness- global warming- global coldness arguments by these ‘experts’- and the sky is falling mantra. THESE ARE DOCUMENTED FINDINGS!

    The facts around Global Warming will not be answered by ‘recruiting experts’ more than I would ask a scientist to help me locate the next SAP Functional FICO Senior Manager for the client I am working on.

    Now if there are those of you who would like to show me some statistics (I am still waiting from my two previous requests on the ‘geeen hires’) on how global warming is not allowing me to do my job (I had 4 hires last month and not one was a ‘green hire’) then I would welcome it- hey maybe you can get a Nobel Peace Prize for it!

    Silly? Yes, just like reading arguments about going green, is going to help me out (notice I never denied this one way or another) so please keep the daggers in.

    If you want to recruit in your green world- then by all means that is your choice-and am sure you can carve out a niche for it- I would suggest that each interview you have make sure you ride your bike to the client site, ensure that all your hires MUST ride their bikes to work (I would put this in your job requirement so as to find the best green hire)and conform to the green wishes of the company.

    I am sure with a 4.5 unemployment rate adding the ‘greeness’ to the laundry list of the requirements won’t be an added burdon to you in this niche- and would suggest you add a ‘green requirement’ (or even ask the end-user)and include it on your postings- and see how successful you are. Who knows I could be wrong!

    To attack people for having a different view on a subject that has really no place in A RECRUITING FORUM- is akin to posting on a scientific forum to gain an understanding of how a scientist would view the next ATS application- while working in the rain forest.

    If you disagree then by all means I welcome your feedback- but please keep it professional.

  • Krista Bradford

    What a lively discussion! My firm, The Good Search, (see has made a commitment to serving companies that in addition to being great (financially successful), also stive to be good (see Google’s Do No Evil policy, Starbucks, et al). Doing a better job of treatings ones employees, shareholders, communities, and the environment well is good business. It mitigates risk (in an all seeing-all knowing net environment), saves limited resources (read up on CSR) which prevents scarcity/skyrocketing costs, and it attracts the ‘best of the best’ who can afford to be picky about where they work. Our research has shown that when given the choice, people would rather work at a company that makes a difference. And as qualified people become more scarce, we want to serve that need and the companies that are smart enough to see the business advantages of being a ‘white hat’. Google is one fairly remarkable case in point.

  • Deborah Jones

    When we attempt to personify the making of profit by somehow assigning ‘morals’ to it, we lose sight of facts. Money is inanimate; it is not capable of having morals. If one seeks to make money by providing a service, then ‘caring’ or ‘doing no harm’ is simply a requisite for delivering good service. If you don’t care about the service you are delivering to your customers then you will not have to worry about providing the service, for you will go out of business. That being said, ‘caring’ about global warming, in and of itself, will not generate one dime of profit. Neither companies, nor job seekers, nor the economy will benefit from simply caring. Exceptional delivery of what people want, at the best possible price, is what keeps people in business, and what keeps people working and recruit-able. Going Green is just a marketing phrase.

  • Krista Bradford

    Perhaps I can build a bridge here. ‘Going Green’ ceases being just a marketing phrase when the business case can be made for it and when huge multinational corporations actually go verdant and see a difference in their bottom lines. That business case has been reported on extensively in the media:,9171,1630552,00.html

    Corporate giants from Wal-Mart to HP see cost savings in addition to other benefits. And I think Kevin is simply noting that employers are leveraging an additional benefit of environmental initiatives: it appeals to some candidates who have the choice of either working for a successful, profitable company or working for a successful, profitable company that also is taking care not to trash the environment while at the same time growing its revenues and sustainability fo said revenues by ‘Going Green.’

  • Tracy Wharton

    For those interested, check out this recent article in the California Job Journal written by James Challenger, President/founder of the Chicago outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

    Young Jobseekers Drawn to Eco-Friendly Employers


    Harris Poll

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    The point of Dr. Sullivan’s article was to recommend that corporations seize the competitive advantage offered by ‘green recruiting efforts’. The point was not to philosophically debate whether individual A or individual B believe global warming exists in the first place. The point of the article was also not to debate whether going green represents profit or not, or whether currency is inanimate or not.

    We need to open our minds in this industry and start learning from our sister functions – consulting firms around the world have made tons of money teaching large organizations how to capitalize on competitive advantage (despite how short-term it may or may not be). The way that products are packaged and sold in one area of the country (or more specifically, the world if you’re an MNC) may not be the same as another. These elements of the marketing mix differ depending on customer segmentation and customer needs in that locale. The way a value proposition is articulated to one customer segment may not necessarily work with another.

    Let’s learn from this paradigm – the way an open position, or employment brand, is articulated to Baby Boomers is going to be different than how it is communicated to Gen-Y. Just as Alfred Sloan pioneered GM when he re-engineered his operations to focus around consumer segments, we in the talent function must move away from stubborn traditionalism to make intelligent and sustained progress.

    Back in the dot-com days, an Aeron chair or a culture of shorts and T-shirts proved to be a short-term competitive advantage that was capitalized on astute and agile recruitment functions. The point now is that it is a new world, and arguably, a new economy than just 7 years ago. Seize whatever competitive advantage you can, just as is the goal of any other sister function within the organization.

    Stay on top of the latest trends; learn what resonates with Gen-X, Gen-Y, Baby Boomers, etc. Speak their language and engage them as candidates in a way that they respect and understand – there is competitive advantage in utilizing this marketing technique within the Talent Acquisition function.

    As TPRs’, we must understand and embrace these marketing and sales tactics – in addition, we have much value to add when presenting these findings and philosophies to our clients.

  • Keith Halperin

    IMHO, if you have a competitive advantage: use it. It should be a major one like: superior pay, benefits, organizational culture, work/life balance, opportunity, etc. If you don’t have one of these, GET ONE. In the meantime, use whatever you do have, like an Environmental Employment Brand.


  • Richard Rogers

    Let’s try and not make this a forum for political statements advocating one position over another. If companies believe they can achieve a competitive edge in the marketplace by branding themselves as environmentally aware then fine. But companies, in their recruiting arsenal, ought to consider having a portfolio of those ‘hot button’ items attractive to certain candidates and which could be the icing on the cake or just the thing to help close the deal. It does not take a wizzard to think of what those might be and the relatively benign cost to an HR budget. What could be they include? Well, we are consultants and sometimes wizzards in our own right.

  • Crystal Miller

    This article was linked to an Earth Day blog post at:

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