The hunt for sustainability positive companies
2020 will be a very memorable year for Covid-19. We are living through a historical moment. But what has taken place is a seismic shift in how we work and a complete overnight change in corporate attitudes towards flexible working and working from home.
Lifestyle articles, in the media this year, have embraced this cultural shift for all sorts of reasons, finances, health, work life balance and for environmental factors too. Anyone living in the heart of a metropolitan city will remember the ghostly silence of the streets in lockdown. Foxes roaming the eerily quiet roads, the dawn chorus being heard for the first time. Along with this startling change to a locked down environment came bluer skies, a small drop in air pollution and some time to reflect on what matters in life.
Over the last four years a trending hot topic in large corporates has been 'sustainability' and how to change work practices to limit the environmental footprint of industry. Some companies have made huge promises to be carbon neutral in just a handful of years. Others less industrious have seen this as a chance to do some ‘greenwashing’, and appear to be joining in, whilst sadly doing very little.
I am seeing this growing trend with my own Interview Coaching clients, some of them, this year, asking me if I knew how they could change companies and find a company that cares about it's environmental impact. I have put this article together to refer to going forward and hopefully expand on in the future.
In a 2017 report, by PwC, they found 65% of people wanted to work for a company with a strong social conscience. Bridget Jackson, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at PwC said, “Being green builds pride, boosting retention of top talent.”Cite Unfortunately, this has led to many companies ‘greenwashing’ their hiring websites and corporate social media in an effort to attract talent when in reality they really are not really doing much at all.
A person doing great work with companies looking to become more sustainable is Sustainability Expert Consultant Sarah Blake at Earthology. Sarah says, "Sustainability is described, according to the Cambridge dictionary, as ‘the quality of causing little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time’. The important part here is that if we don’t do business in a sustainable way, we won’t be able to continue as resources will run out."
How does a job seeker find a company that isn’t fudging their green credentials?
There is a certifying sustainability assessment process called ‘B-Corp’, which companies can choose to go through, to show how sustainable they are. It is a tough process to get certified. B-Corp independently measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance. Helpfully there is a published list of B-Corp companies, not many on the list are household names unsurprisingly. However, it is a start. And they do have a job board but when I looked there were no job listings for Ireland and only nine jobs listed in the UK. They appear to be currently mostly targeting the USA. There are only three companies in Ireland that have B Corp certification: Cully and Sully, Danone Dairy and Urban Volt. In the UK there are 312 certified B Corps and in the USA there are 1293 listed. I think this is a listing to watch and also one to influence your own employer to thinking about joining.
A useful reference for Publicly Listed Companies with over $1 billion in global turnover, who are doing some good work on Sustainability goals, is the Corporate Knights global ranking of most sustainable large companies in 2020. They independently assess companies according to the following indicators: Percentage Tax Paid, Pension Fund Status, Supplier Sustainability Score (except financial services organizations), Women in Executive Management, Women on Boards, Sustainability Pay Link-Sanctions Deductions, Clean Revenue.
The top 5 PLc's, according to Corporate Knights assessment for Sustainable companies, globally in 2020 were Orsted (Denmark), Chr. Hansen Holding (Denmark), Neste Oyj (Finland), Cisco Systems (USA) and Autodesk (USA). They have a handy excel spreadsheet on their website to show the top 100 PLc companies, which shows the assessed indicator scores. Accenture was the only company in Ireland to make the top 100 list. And only 5 companies in the UK made the list, with highest on the list, at number 46, being Unilever.
What the Sustainability Expert Thinks
Sarah Blake also says, "Checking the company's website to see if they have committed to Net Zero or made Science-Based Targets (SBT) Commitments. It's also worth checking to see do they report on GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) or disclose information to the GDP (Global Disclosure Platform). The other important mark to look out for is the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's), these are 17 goals that companies can work towards on their sustainability journey. These goals encompass more than just the environmental side and take into account the interconnected nature of business and society. They include things like Gender Equality (No.5) No Poverty (No.1) and Affordable and Clean Energy (No.7).
It is still early days in the search for sustainable employers. There is much talk and only some action. But the more sustainability is talked about as a Talent Attraction and investment tool the more companies will think hard about how to back up what they are saying with evidence to prove their sustainability.
If you are thinking of moving to a more sustainable company you will have to read between the lines to ensure it is a company that is working towards Sustainability goals. Look at company reports and assess the companies according to Corporate Knights assessment criteria. Pick the most important elements of sustainability for you and work out what the company is doing well in those areas.
What You Can Do
If you are looking to move to a Company with a developing Sustainability ethos you will likely need to demonstrate at a job interview why you want to work at their company. Being aware of the actions they are taking for a more Sustainable future will impress the interviewers.
If you are looking to remain in your current employer but think Sustainability is important you can find out if there is a working committee that is working on ideas to create an environment that is more sustainable and join in with workshops and volunteering. At the very least you will have something to add to your CV (even If applying to internal, roles) and feel good about yourself for doing something that helps make a difference.
How to Get Promoted
In uncertain times, employers generally slow down the promotion opportunities and stymie advancement because they cannot afford to promote, back-fill positions, or pay out older Partners and C-Suite people, in times of recession.
Take the average age of partners in the Big 4 Professional Service firms. They used to promote people to partner at an average age of 34 before the financial recession of 2007-8. Now this has moved on a couple of years to 36. Who knows where this will be after this recession? In the 1990’s average age was 29! And in the good years Partners would voluntarily retire from the firm at 58 to move on to other prestigious board and advisory roles. This is becoming rarer, as older Partners stay in place for longer for financial reasons, due to taking a hit on their pension during the last recession, and current Covid-19 one, and the dreaded equity calls/draw reductions.
This is just a snapshot from one industry, but it reflects a lot of industries. It has become harder to get promoted because the opportunities simply aren't there unless you have the right skills in place to help your company succeed.
What does it take to get Promoted?
Apart from having your relatives run the company, it all comes down to results.
You have to have the right experiences to talk about at interview that will make the interviewers feel comfortable with promoting you, if you don't, you will likely fail to get promoted.
The most sought after skills (among others) are:
It does not matter how long you have been doing your current role for, you will still need to get some experience for these skills. Interviewers do not have crystal balls. They won’t be assured by you saying you are ready for the promotion. They need you to have what it takes and to have some evidential experiences to enable you to be safely promoted and learn fast.
These experiences do not have to be major. Even subbing for your manager when they were on leave, taking on additional responsibilities outside of your role, managing a team as a deputy, taking on training without being asked, improving a process, saving the company money, thinking outside the box and coming up with original ideas.
What you can do
If you are approaching a promotion, in the next 12 months’, I can help you get a strategy in place that will enable you to be a contender when the interview arises. Even if you are looking externally you can use your current role or company to facilitate any work that needs to be done and impress the interviewers.
My Promotion Coaching is best when you have time to plan and follow through to results on the experiences you need to obtain before interview. The coaching takes place over 5 sessions. The initial strategy session, two follow up milestones sessions to see how you are executing the strategy. A focused session on interview preparation close to the interview and a mock interview, where all your preparation work will come together in brilliant answers.
This will be really worth your while, as it has never been harder to get promoted and you need to plan the change. Just think how great you will feel when this pays off for you.
You can book in the Promotion Coaching here. I look forward to working with you on this crucial life changing plan.
How do I Get A Chief Role?
If I had a euro for every time someone asked me this question! The answer is really very simple, but requires a lot of courage. Most people I know have not got what it takes to get to a Chief role, whether CEO, CFO, COO, CTO etc. They like the idea of running the show and all the benefits and, presumed, ego rub that come with the position but they are not the right fit.
You need to assess whether you have what it takes.
Ask yourself these questions:
How did you get on with those questions? Leading a company takes massive amounts of courage because nothing is plain sailing. Answering yes, to these assessment questions, is a good indicator your aspirations may not be just dreams.
Now, think about your career. Maybe you are currently at a Director level or Managing Director of a division. That is great because that is where C-Suite are bred. But ask yourself these six questions:
Having owned an Executive Search Firm for seven years I know that C-Suite is not all about positive high achievements. It is knowing what to do when things go wrong, backfire or even explode in both ways. Having the theory of what to do is no match for having the experience.
If you are still gunning for C-Suite what have you done in the last three years, which can provide impressive answers to my six questions?
Yes, you may well have produced excellent results, but at this level expect questions like my six above. Have you got great examples to answer these? This is what makes a great C-Suite person and explains why so many high performers get leapfrogged by their grittier, varied experience, junior reports to the top table.
I know at the top level it is hard for people to find C level jobs, if they have only worked in a perceived easy company, or trendy company.Companies, such as Big Tech, Social Media, Big Pharma. These companies are just not attractive hunting grounds for C leaders because the perception is they will have no experience of turning around a business or working with lean budgets and breaking into new markets.
You will need to get way out of your comfort zone to prove your worth to most regular companies. If you are currently in a 'popular' company, I know these big budget companies often like to see varied C level experience and sometime take back former senior employees, after they have taken a diversion for a couple of years, to practice their leadership on someone else’s payroll!
If you need guidance and an assessment on whether you have what it takes to make it to the C-suite let’s have a call. I will be honest.
If you have the experience, and are preparing for upcoming interviews, we have a great Executive Interview Coaching Programme for these interviews. I can help you develop outstanding answers, which will pitch you perfectly for your chosen C level role in your interviews.
If you have the desire but are still lacking in the right rounded experience, I will be able to provide an actionable plan to get you on the right path using my Promotion Coaching system.
Book in a 20 minute call today to discuss your needs.
Re-interviewing for Your Own Job
This is the most contentious of all internal interviews. Most of the time re-interviewing for your own job occurs when a company is going through a particularly tough time and need to shed employees, sometimes without much notice and hardly any more than a statutory redundancy package if you do a poor interview and don’t get your job back. Also, if they have merged or been acquired with or by, another company, and find themselves with duplicated employees.
This is often traumatic for the employees, particularly if they have been in the role or company for years. It is even more stressful for those in an older demographic relying on their job to secure their pension.
My heart always sinks when I hear about this practice, as I know this often signals we are definitely entering another big recession. And the collateral damage as always are job losses and misery.
I understand why employers are pushed into this. As an ex HR Manager, I understand this is the only way they can safely let employees go. By safely, I mean it is the only way employers can protect themselves from a bunch of litigation cases for wrongful dismissal. A re-interview is their way of proving evidence of their decision making on who to keep on, and who to make redundant.
Unfortunately, if you have not interviewed in years and find yourself in this situation you really need to get up to speed fast with interviewing techniques and formats used in 2020. I have just published a new course on Udemy titled ‘Interview for Success in 2020’. It is a thorough and comprehensive course, which explains how to interview and compile great answers for a range of interviewing formats, including: Structured, Behavioural Competency, Situational and Technical formats. And especially for these Covid-19 days, how to interview in a Video Interview.
Sadly, employees that are long standing, and often the highest paid, are more often than not targeted by HR for the re-interviewing shortlist. This is demonstrated by British Airways who recently announced they are planning to let all their pilot staff go and then they will re-interview them for their jobs. If you know anything about BA you will know that there is a disparity in benefits between different cohorts of their employees. Long standing employees have more benefits and higher salaries than the newer employees, hired more recently. This is BA’s chance to rehire their old employees on equitable terms, with new and less beneficial contract terms. It is currently being legally challenged.
A large technology company, who is also one of the wealthiest companies on the planet, are also re-interviewing, for what reason I do not know. I will leave that thought hanging.
Sometimes, companies have genuine reasons, and sometimes they see a recession as a great opportunity to restructure their workforce, for all sorts of reasons.
If you are re-interviewing for your job, do not panic. But, do get organised.
Treat the interview as if you are interviewing at the company for the first time. Explain yourself fully and prepare all the answers to likely questions completely. Do not assume or presume that the company know all about you and your achievements, you have to tell them about them fully. This is what an interview is all about, giving evidence for why you are great at your job. Likewise, with technical questions, answer questions fully, as if you were teaching someone who has no idea how to do the technical aspects of your job.
But, ultimately, this is the right time to get help with your interviews. A professional interview preparation coach can do wonders for developing your answers, ability to sell yourself and your confidence. It is vital that you work with someone who has a big track record in Recruiting Internally for companies. They will know exactly what angles to come at in positioning your answers in the best way.
With my background, as Head of Recruitment at global companies such as Deloitte and KPMG, I can help you to prepare for your re-interview. I have interviewed thousands for internal positions in my decades in recruitment roles. And I have coached thousands in the last 12 years of interview coaching, which vitally includes helping my clients secure their jobs through re-interviewing in the last recession.
Do not hesitate to book in for coaching. The Internal Interview Coaching Programme is best for anyone re-interviewing. The Internal Programme consists of 2.5 hours of 1:1 interview preparation coaching by video link. And as a bonus, I will also include my online course ‘Interview for Success in 2020’ for free, to give you a back up resource for all my 1:1 coaching.
The job market is certainly changing extremely fast these days. With the slow release of global lock-down from Covid-19 we are starting to see an emergence of a starkly different world, and it's not necessarily a great time to find a new job.
When I launched my interview coaching business in 2008, we were entering a financial recession, that went on for a number of years. Jobs were scarce and people were scared. I can’t believe how fast the years have gone by and here we are again. Another global recession looming like a juggernaut in the rear-view mirror.
We can all only hope that the bounce back won’t be as long as the last recession.
However, there are glimmers of hope among the grey gathering clouds. The rise of home working will be transformative for many who hate their daily commute or dislike the noise of a busy office. Employers who have got a handle on how the technology works for remote working are becoming embracing of this very swift change. Of course, there will be those stuck in the past, demanding presenteeism in the office, but like those companies slow to change and adapt they will find it hard to attract new talent.
What does it Mean if you are Looking for a New Job or Promotion?
Things are going to be tough for a while in the job market and you can’t afford to be complacent or unprepared for your interviews because other candidates will be prepared and may get the job.
This is a hard shock to the system, as we are seeing the balance of power shift fast into the employer’s hands, from what was, at the start of 2020, a strong candidate market. Now, it is an employer’s market, which means they can be pickier than in the last few years, when they had to search high and low for talent. Expect to see the balance of power shift in the next six months as more companies rationalise their workforce and implement cost saving measures with redundancies. Employers, who are looking to hire, will have their pick of candidates and are back in control. In an employer’s market expect to see:
How you can Help Yourself to get Prepared for Interview
You can avail of all my experience having guided hundreds of clients through the last recession. You can take my free online course on ‘What to do before Applying for a New Job’ to make sure your application is impactful and give yourself a great chance of getting an interview.
For full interview preparation I recommend booking into one of my interview coaching programmes. There is a programme that will meet your needs whether you are an Executive, Manager, or a Professional seeking a new job or Promotion or Graduate.
To get in the best shape you can, if you are looking for a new job, take my pre-application course and clean up your Linked In profile, dust your social media down, and get a targeted CV in place.
Then book in your interview coaching with me.
If you want to speak to me about your interview preparation needs please book in a call.
With growing numbers of people globally getting infected by the Corona Virus, employers globally are switching from in person interviews to video interviews. These precautions allow companies to enable crucial hires during this challenging period.
Clare Reed is a leading global expert Interview Coach with over 22 years global interviewing and coaching experience.