Banner Default Image

Life Sciences Blogs, News & Articles

Why Sustainability Should Be on Your Job Search Agenda

22 March 2021

By Jay Freeman

Why Sustainability Should Be on Your Job Search Agenda

The discussion of sustainability in the life sciences sector isn’t exclusive to those implementing the changes - it also includes those who see sustainability as a priority when applying for jobs.

In last week’s life sciences blog, we explored the different ways that the sector was moving towards more sustainable practices, such as the health system Kaiser Pemanente becoming the first health system in the US to reach carbon neutrality through energy efficiency.

Though many businesses in the sector are pushing the needle forward with heightened emphasis on social responsibility, energy efficiency, responsible innovation and reduced emissions, what can candidates do to find greener roles, and why should they consider working for a green organisation? 

What are ‘greener’ jobs?

Rather than referring to job roles specifically in the environmental sector, a greener job can broadly be defined as a job role that has a positive, long-term effect on the planet.

Whether this is in relation to a company’s sustainability processes or their commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR), individual employees are considering meaningful change when looking at businesses they feel have a positive impact.

Millennials in particular are spearheading this push for a focus on more sustainable practices, with 77% looking for employers with CSR values that matched their own.

Value-led recruitment is only increasing as the demand for greener jobs grows – in the UK alone, sustainability job postings have increased by nearly a third.

How is sustainability in the life sciences sector changing?

The benchmarks for sustainability in the life sciences sector are constantly shifting, but there is a renewed emphasis on meaningful change in the industry.

Here are some predictions from a Deloitte report on the future of the life sciences sector:

  • Pharma companies have adopted the principles of circularity (reduce, reuse, recycle) by developing closed-loop product life cycles and reducing the use of raw materials.

  • Life sciences organisations have developed a system level set of common metrics and disclosures, including independent audits to engender confidence and trust in their progress towards sustainability.

  • Regulatory standards have been introduced on measuring and reporting carbon emissions across the health ecosystem, being evaluated on a regular basis.

Reducing environmental impact, increasing CSR impact

As a society, we know the impact laboratory functions can have on the environment: high energy usage, large water consumption, and hazardous and plastic waste.

The way the life sciences sector is slowly combatting this is through a focus on reducing carbon emissions, implementing waste management techniques, and focusing on renewable and digital options.

Society is aware of the challenges that life sciences as a sector face, as multiple sectors face the same challenges around their supply chains – which is why businesses showcasing a genuine effort towards sustainability can be a priority for many candidates in their job search.

How are candidates approaching sustainability?

A lot of candidates will already be doing thorough research during their job hunting, looking through a company’s social media and website, searching for any relevant awards or achievements towards sustainability, and checking job advertisements for relevant information about sustainability-led practices.

For many candidates, however, it’s the interview stage that can offer the greatest opportunity to gain insights into company values, approach and commitment to sustainability. 

How candidates approach sustainability

A multitude of factors can influence your decisions whilst job searching.

75% of candidates research a company’s reputation (mission and values) when considering a job role, with 92% of people saying they would consider changing jobs if they were offered a role with a company that has an excellent corporate reputation.

If you find yourself weighing up the effort that a company is making towards sustainability, you aren’t alone:

  • 70% of respondents said they were more likely to choose to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda.

  • 40% said they’ve chosen a job in the past because the company performed better on sustainability than the alternative

  • Nearly 70% believed if a company had a strong sustainability plan, it would affect their decision to stay with that company in the long-term.

  • 30% have left a job in the past due to their employer’s lack of a sustainability plan.

Most notably, the majority of respondents said that sustainability is important to them personally and that businesses should play a large role in advancing sustainability.

How can you help an organisation become more sustainable?

When a company focuses its efforts on sustainability, employee retention, productivity and overall engagement go up.

But what can you do to aid sustainability efforts?

It can begin with the initial process of job hunting – observing whether sustainability is embedded into job descriptions, a visible part of the company, and if it is discussed in the hiring process.

There are a few dimensions to this, such as seeing whether sustainability performance from employees is rewarded, if there is consistency between the values a company advertises versus what it practices, and if sustainability is mentioned in the hiring process at all.

Marie-France Tschudin, President of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, says she has gained a better understanding of this generation’s needs in the workforce through the ‘reverse-mentoring’ millennials have given – showing that employee attitudes can influence company culture.

Finding greener jobs

As mentioned previously, there has been a steady increase in greener job postings in recent years, meaning there is no shortage of vacancies, particularly in the life sciences sector.

Biopharma companies make up 49% of industry employment in the UK alone, and job growth globally in the life sciences sector is set to grow by 7% by 2028.

One of the easiest methods for finding greener jobs is to look for recruitment agencies specialising in the life sciences sector that have dedicated consultants in the hiring process – if climate change is something you’re passionate about, a consultant can ensure you can align this with your next position.

Alternatively, research is a great option, as you can deep dive into a company to see if they are a good match based on your own preferences when looking at job listings and utilise what you’ve found if you do reach a later stage in the hiring process.

The best piece of advice for seeking out companies with a strong stance on sustainability and environmental issues is to trust your first impression.

If you’d like to find the best life sciences vacancies, you can get in touch with the Panda team to find out more. 

Share this article