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The Ethical Engineer

Nov 12 2006 13:28
Nick Simpson
Should we be considering the environmental conscious of the companies we apply to after graduation?
An ecological nightmare

Tony Blair's aim to reduce the country's emission of six harmful pollutants by 2012 is looking grim. Everyday a top scientist predicts we will fall short of the targets, while another describes the submerging of Holland, Bangladesh and the extinction of polar bears.

With all this in mind, as members of one of the world's top engineering faculties, should we be more selective on where we apply for a job after graduation? While the majority of students will rank salary, flexibility, pension and health schemes as the top criteria in looking for a job after university, an increasing proportion are starting to consider the environmental impact their future employer is making.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is the new buzz word for greener companies. The concept originates from companies being accountable for their social, economic and environmental impacts, not just pre-tax profits. This is not just about necessity, such as the growing investments by Royal Dutch/Shell or BP into renewable but companies acting with a conscience. Examples include switching to hybrid or electric pool cars, increasing office energy efficiency, reducing the use of paper and promoting alternative transport, an extension of sustainable development. Our very own Union building redevelopment included consultation with the Carbon Trust on how to improve its efficiency. There are even standards, such as ISO 14000 which companies can adhere to, providing a framework for environmentally friendly operation.

Talking to firms at a careers fair it soon becomes apparent who is taking real steps, compared to others whose clueless representatives draw a blank at the mention of CSR or even resort to 'we work for petroleum companies' accompanied with a grimace. But help is out there. ICU runs a yearly ethical careers fair. Organised by Pugwash and the Environmental society and found in the Great Hall it offers the opportunity for students to take steps to becoming greener in employment.

For more information on ISO14000, a user forum has been set up at, take a look at The Carbon Trust's website at or get involved by contacting to find out how to help with this year's Ethical Careers Fair.

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Discussion about “The Ethical Engineer”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Nov 13 2006 09:19

I've never studied economics, but this is how i see it- The british gov is one of the more supportive of 'greeness' and would quite like all companies to be green, but can't do it on it's own because Britain needs to compete globally.

However- this is where my scepticism comes in- If Britain went all green our economy would be weaken initially because of increased costs, however if the world decided to all go green most countries would have there economies weakened much more than us (as we're not particuarly industrial) and so we'd effectivily have a stronger economy.

So my advise would be that as America and China have too much to lose it won't make a difference who you work for but avoid anyone in Norfolk as it's only a couple of meters above sea level...

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