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Putting a Premium on Meaningful Work
By Sara Laks

Many people today are placing a premium on more meaningful work. 


In a June 2009 "Corporate Citizenship Study" conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates in conjunction with Landor and Burson-Marsteller 40 percent of about 1,000 participants said they were willing to take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company. The Washington-based consulting firm reports that those in the age group 18-24 are especially likely to take a pay cut to work for a socially responsible company.  These recent graduates, already challenged with the prospects of unemployment as a lagging indicator of today’s economic woes, are still reaching for jobs with a social mission in droves. Whether it’s a societal fad, a manifestation of today’s political administration, or the environmental externality graphs of micro-economics class that triangulated the inefficiencies of excluding social impacts; grads are seeing a synergy between profit and responsibility.

And it isn’t just college grads.  According to a 3,500-person survey by Civic Ventures and the Metlife Foundation of workers ages 44 to 70 not already in second careers focusing on a social impact, almost 50 percent are interested in more meaningful careers. This research, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates, Inc., estimates that between 5.3 and 8.4 million Americans have already launched "encore careers"—positions that combine income and personal meaning with social impact.  This growing trend of workers increasingly incorporating the “social capital” of a position into the overall value is worth following equally because of its root causes as well as its implications for the future. 

Unfortunately, more socially responsible jobs are not easy to come by at the moment, despite sites like idealist.org or change.org.  This is not only due to the general austerity of the job market but also because of the broad spectrum of industries these positions fall within and the lack of formal recruiting programs geared toward socially responsible jobs.

Yet the demand exists, and top talent is lining up to work for the most responsible enterprises.  Hopefully this demand will soon align with an expanded supply of green jobs created as we retrofit our economy.

Sara Laks, Assistant to the President


Posted: September 17, 2009