Careers Service: What’s your employer’s carbon footprint?

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New initiative will inform students about their potential employer’s sustainability credentials

A new Careers Service initiative has come into effect which gives Oxford students access to potential employers’ sustainability credentials.

The scheme asks employers who wish to advertise vacancies on Careers Connect whether they acknowledge the existence of a climate crisis, what plans they have to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and stay profitable, and any other relevant plans they have to increase sustainability.

These questions are based on the Oxford Martin principles for Climate-Conscious Investment, developed by the Oxford Martin School.

The Oxford Martin School is an Oxford-based research and policy unit whose stated aim is ‘Finding solutions to the world’s most urgent problems’.

The answers companies give to these questions will then be published for students to view when deciding to apply for jobs on the Careers Connect platform.

For companies, replying to the questions is currently voluntary, but Jonathan Black, Director of the Oxford University Careers Service told The Oxford Student that there has been high engagement with the scheme so far.

Currently, over 200 companies have ticked ‘Yes’ to the question ‘Does your organisation recognise the climate crisis’.

73 companies have provided supporting information about their commitment to sustainability.

Examples of commitment to sustainability companies have given range from their accreditation by the Nordic Swan Ecolabel, a label Nordic companies achieve by demonstrating commitment to environmental protection, to minimising flying and always flying economy.

The Oxford Careers Service is currently the only UK university careers service to implement such a scheme, which Black described as necessary to “enable students to make well informed decisions about their career”.

Black also told The Oxford Student that he believes “if there is sufficient student interest and demand more employers will come on board”.

He also highlighted possible ways the plan could be expanded in the future, stating the Careers Service may “highlight those employers who are demonstrating these sustainability credentials perhaps in careers fair brochures, etc”.

Other potential plans being considered also include giving organisations who have demonstrated a commitment to sustainability a special emblem on the Careers Connect website.

This initiative comes amidst a wider push by the university to challenge the organisations they  are involved with on their environmental policies.

The same Oxford Martin principles used to formulate the questions asked to companies on Careers Connect were used to formulate St Hilda’s divestment plans, with the college divesting in the medium term from companies who were incompatible with the stipulations.

Kaya Axelsson, Oxford SU Vice President for Charities and Communities, said: “Oxford Students want to join organisations that are preparing for the future not relying on business models of the past.

“About two fifths of the world has committed to a net zero target by 2050 and the rest of the world has to get on board for my generation to have a reasonable chance of growing up in a future below two degrees average warming. I am thrilled to be working with our careers service to protect students’ futures and provide them with professional development opportunities to lead in the 21st century.”

Other Oxford University initiatives to increase awareness of climate and sustainability issues in the future include a database of reading lists on environmental issues being compiled for each academic department in the university, as well as an interdepartmental Oxford Climate Alumni Network being launched this spring to help alumni come together to tackle the climate crisis.

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