Graduates Choose Ethical Employers Over High Salaries When Seeking Jobs

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New graduates said they would gladly turn down higher salaries to work for companies that care about the environment and have strong ethics.

The future of the environment is a priority for many young people, which means that potential employers need to show they are serious about sustainability, rather than just offering attractive wages.

Climate change is a much bigger issue than the kind of salary you could earn

Ali Mortoda, Graduate, American University of Sharjah

The National spoke to recent graduates as well as education and employment experts who said young people entering the workforce are most concerned about the effect they are having on the world that surrounds them.

Graduates said that embarking on a career based solely on earning as much money as possible would only lead to long-term unhappiness.

“Our generation is stepping back and not just focusing on what’s on offer in terms of salary,” said Ali Mortoda, 22, who just graduated with a degree in economics from the American University of Sharjah.

“We’re not just going to be blown away by the money on offer, we want to know what kind of company they are and what they stand for.

“I have just started a new role in a company but, before accepting, I checked what their environmental policies were.”

He said the stance taken by him and his peers stems from a strong sense of duty to improve the world around them.

“When I was in college, the focus was on the environment, which maybe makes it harder for our generation to look away,” said the Egyptian.

“In a few years, we will be the ones making the decisions in the driver’s seat and with that comes a great responsibility.

“Climate change is a much bigger issue than what kind of salary you could possibly earn.”

Mr Mortada’s comments came four months before his home country prepares to host the Cop27 climate change conference in Cairo, the first time the event will take place in the Middle East.

The following year, Cop28 will be held in the United Arab Emirates, with Expo City Dubai hosting the event.

“I would definitely choose to work somewhere with good ESG (environmental social governance) policies even if it means lower pay,” said Shree Lakshmi Nair, 21, who earned a master’s degree in commerce from Heriot-Watt this year. to Dubai. University.

“When you work for an employer whose ESG policies are not aligned with your personal beliefs, it can lead to a lot of dissatisfaction and lack of job satisfaction.

“I saw this with my own eyes, when some of my friends worked in places whose values ​​differed from theirs and they were deeply unhappy.”

She said the biggest environmental challenge facing the world was climate change.

“You only have to look around to see concrete examples of how this is affecting our lives – rising temperatures, increasing traffic jams, rising fuel and food prices and much more,” said Mrs. Nair, originally from India, who works as an intern at the university from which she graduated.

“As steps are taken to counter it, I certainly think there’s a lot of opportunity to be more mindful, raise awareness, and be proactive about making lifestyle changes and choices, like using public transport instead of four cars for a family of four.”

Another recent Indian graduate, from the same university, said she would have no qualms about turning down a job offer if she felt the company’s ESG policies did not align with her own beliefs.

“There are some issues that are close to my heart, including sustainability, mental well-being, women’s empowerment and gender equality in the workplace,” said Tanishi Mathur, 21, who has graduated this year with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

“I would hesitate to accept an offer from a place that does not reflect these values.

She believes her generation’s passion for environmental issues stems from being exposed to online information from an early age.

“Today there is a lot of awareness, and the internet makes it easy for us to understand what’s going on and why it matters,” said Mathur, who now works as a business analyst for Deloitte.

“My generation also knows that if we don’t act, there will be a heavy price to pay.”

Tanishi Mathur said the internet has made it easier for young people to learn about the world around them.

A leading expert said there was a clear trend among young people to put the environment at the top of their list of priorities, both regionally and globally.

“I sit on the advisory board of a university in the United States and we see that young people are giving up higher salaries to be associated with companies that offer them a sense of purpose,” said Dr. Yahya Anouti, head of ESG at Middle East with PwC accountants. .

“They want to feel that they are not harming the environment and the world around them through their actions.

“Having a higher sense of purpose is what drives young people today,” he said at a Cop27 preview event in Dubai last week.

Event attendees heard how Cop27 and Cop28 will highlight many of the environmental issues facing the region and the rest of the world.

Among the regional challenges discussed was the fact that the UAE has several cities with air pollutants 10 times higher than the levels considered safe by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Five of the six GCC members are ranked in the top 10 countries responsible for greenhouse gas emissions per capita, according to the most recent figures released by the World Population Review, a US organization that studies global data trends.

The list was dominated by Belarus with Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates making up the rest of the top five, Saudi Arabia was 10th on the list.

A Dubai recruiter said he was aware of cases of young jobseekers turning down offers because they didn’t think the company’s ESG programs were up to snuff.

“The younger generation is less likely than its predecessors to be primarily salary-driven,” said David Mackenzie, group managing director at recruiters Mackenzie Jones.

“They are unlikely to focus on what they can get for themselves and are more concerned about the environment.”

Mackenzie said as a result, some industries were struggling to fill entry-level positions.

“You find that financial services and oil and gas companies struggle to recruit the right graduates, it’s because a lot of young people don’t believe in the effectiveness of their ESG programs.”

Updated: July 09, 2022, 04:49

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