In Search of Green DNA

We’re pleased to feature guest blogger Susan Camberis and her piece on the value of sustainability to both employers and employees.


People want to work for great companies that make a difference in the world. They want to do interesting work that they’re good at, and they want to be respected for their unique contributions. That’s what I’m looking for, and most everyone I’ve met in transition over the last few months wants something similar. We all want to contribute our time and talents to great organizations with great cultures.

I feel fortunate to have spent a career in Human Resources, most recently specializing in Talent Management. A big part of Talent Management today is about building talent pipeline. This includes setting up the systems and processes that help organizations attract, develop and retain future leaders. This was an important part of my last role as a Talent Management Director, and, as I’ve entered the job market this year, it seems to reflect what most companies are looking for in similar types of roles.

Entering the job market after almost 15 years with one organization has been interesting and educational. It’s given me a fresh perspective on the candidate experience – what it looks and feels like to be a job seeker today. While some organizations have streamlined their processes and made it easier for candidates, most job seekers I know typically find the process time-consuming, protracted and frustrating. Researching potential employers, including their cultures, is a crucial step in the search process, but very time intensive. One career consultant I know estimates that as much as 80% of the job search is really about research.

One of the things I’m passionate about is sustainability (what The Good Jobs calls Green DNA). From a research perspective, I’m interested in organizations that are responsibly managing to the bottom line, as well as to the triple bottom line (a phrase coined by Andrew Savitz and Karl Weber in their 2006 book of the same name – referring to measuring not only the economic impact of a business, but the social and environmental impacts as well). Believing that HR professionals can play a unique role in helping their organizations become more sustainable, I’m targeting organizations where sustainability is an important part of the culture.

To identify target companies, I’m networking with HR and sustainability professionals – asking their opinions about which organizations have strong sustainability cultures and/or which companies are ready to do more…and ideally want a Human Resources Business Partner to help co-create the strategy. I’ve referenced Fortune’s Best Companies to Work For list and Newsweek’s Green 500 rankings. I’ve also looked at what companies are supporting organizations like Net Impact (a leading nonprofit that empowers a new generation to use their careers to drive transformational change in the workplace and the world). While the process has  educational and fun (who doesn’t like meeting lots of interesting people and expanding their network?), it’s also been time consuming.

I’m also interested in workplace demographics. I still have a copy of Ken Dychtwald’s Age Power (published in 1999) in my bookcase, which focused on how the baby boomers would transform society and the world of work. In more recent years, many books have been written about the newest generation of workers (Gen Y) and how they are starting to transform the workplace. The fact that organizations are placing more emphasis on attracting and developing Gen Y leaders is a good thing. That said, research like Net Impact’s 2012 What Workers Want study suggests that all generations have a high level of interest in working for organizations with positive cultures (88% of workers surveyed, and 91% of students) and more than half of all respondents surveyed view Contribution to Society as Very Important to their ideal role. Organizations that understand this trend and can meaningfully engage all generations in their Corporate Social Responsibility and broader sustainability efforts will be best positioned to attract and retain the best talent.

In essence, organizations and candidates are looking for the same thing. Once a skills match has been determined, they both want to make sure there’s a cultural fit. Organizations typically look for a match with their values and competencies. Candidates are looking for companies that will enable them to utilize their strengths, feel supported, provide development opportunities, and engage them. Most workers want to make a difference, not just earn a paycheck. The places where buyers and sellers come together are through social media, organizations’ job boards, brand ambassadors (AKA current employees) and other brand messaging. This matching process remains challenging and largely inefficient. This is where organizations like The Good Jobs can play a helpful role…creating a better experience for job seekers and the organizations trying to find them.


Susan Camberis is a Talent Management and HR leader who is passionate about learning and sustainability. From 1999 to 2013, Susan held various HR roles with Baxter Healthcare Corporation. Susan is particularly interested in how companies are engaging employees and developing talent while becoming more sustainable. She is an active member of Net Impact and tweets @susancamberis. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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