Friday, November 30, 2007

What's Your Responsibility Quotient?

Sometimes, decisions about who you will and won’t work for help you sort out just how strongly you feel about an issue. I’m not a big fan of the war on terror and would have preferred that we spend those billions on universal pre-school for American children. Yet when an editor offered me a very profitable assignment writing a feature for one of Halliburton’s in-house magazines, I snapped the assignment right up. I could have sent the fee over to the Fresh Air Fund for children, but I used it to pay my health insurance tab instead.

If you’ve never run across a similar scenario, give it time. It’s the nature of life that if you’re a public accountant vehemently against abortion, your firm will land the audit work for the National Abortion Rights Action League and give the assignment to your team. When that happens, will you suck it up and do the audit, or beg off the assignment?

Do you consider corporate social responsibility when you job hunt? Check a company’s carbon footprint or charitable donations? Is it enough to know that your employer would give you two weeks off every spring so you can travel with your church to support an orphanage in Kenya, or do you actively look for a company that provides relief to African orphans?

Two recent surveys got me thinking about all this: The first, from KPMG, asked college students what their primary consideration was in choosing an employer and 57.4 percent said career opportunities. A scant 9 percent rated employer’s reputation as their top consideration.

The second survey, from Robert Half Management Resources, asked chief financial officers to rank the importance of corporate social responsibility programs. About 30 percent said they were “very important,” 25 percent said they were “not at all important,” and the rest were somewhere in the middle.

Can we conclude that most companies don’t care much about charity or volunteerism and that applicants don’t really care, as long as the job they’re offered has solid growth potential?

I suspect that for most of us, finding a socially responsible employer, or the decision to stay with an employer that moves in a direction we don’t like, is similar to choosing between a hybrid and a regular car. If the price is right, we’ll go with the hybrid, but if the price difference is large enough, fiscal consideration will outweigh good intentions every time.

Just who would you work for? It’s easy to say you’d hit the Add sender to blocked senders list if the Devil emailed after seeing your resume at JobsintheMoney, but it’s not always that obvious - or that easy.

No comments: