Careers Beyond Profit

The information below aims to explore the idea of ‘doing good’ with your career – and focuses on organisations with social or environmental goals from the non-profit, public and private sectors. Opportunities which relate to your values can be found in all of these industries. For example, the private sector includes social enterprises, community interest companies, companies with CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) teams, SRI (Socially Responsible Investment) organisations and firms which have strong principles and values on the social/environmental impact of their work.

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If you’re looking to ‘do good’ with your career, it can help to first consider what ‘doing good’ means to you. This can provide a useful career focus.

Try the following to help:

  1. Write a list of any of the following:
    • Volunteer or paid work that you’ve done which you consider ‘did good’
    • Causes that you actively support, or have done in the past
    • Individuals you know of who you think ‘do good’ with their career
    • Organisations or companies you know of who you feel ‘do good’
  2. For each, try to briefly define what ‘good’ was done.
  3. Consider the definitions of ‘good’ you’ve just written.  Are there any themes emerging which could help to pinpoint your values? Reflecting on this exercise can help you clarify where your values lie – and may also help to define other aspects that are important to you in a career.

Working out what suits you

As well as your values, there are many other aspects that make up the ‘ingredients’ for fulfilling work. A job which doesn’t suit you, even in a context which fits your values well, can be an unhappy prospect. Take the time to think about:

  • Your skills – which do you like to use? What would you like to develop?
  • Your environment – buzzing and competitive? Supportive and personal? Concentrated and focused?
  • Your work-life balance
  • Location, salary

 

Key resource:

Generating Career Ideas

 

 

To investigate more about what would suit you, read our page on Generating Career Ideas, which contains resources, questionnaires and exercises to help you figure out what might suit you.

Job hunting

Vacancy Websites

There are a selection of job vacancy websites for cause-driven work listed in ‘External Resources’ on this briefing, and these should be supplemented with sector-specific resources. For example, if you’re really motivated to work in an environmentally impactful field, you can find many specific sites for job hunting via our Environmental Work page.

Graduate Schemes

Although a few graduate schemes do exist in charities, environmental organisations, arts organisations and so on (see the relevant sector pages for information), the high costs of training schemes mean that they are unusual in this area. A few more general schemes are listed below:

  • On Purpose runs a one year paid Associate Programme in social enterprise (only open to those with a minimum of 2 years full time work)

Speculative approaches

These are vital, as many organisations keep costs low by not advertising vacancies. Check individual organisation websites, and set up coffee chats with those working in some of your most favoured organisations to ask more about the work and the role – and ask whether they could let you know if they hear of any opportunities. See our guide to networking for more.

Sometimes it’s not possible to find work, at least initially, which meets all your interests, skills and has the ethical impact that you’re looking for. A good example is the field of Human Rights Law – there are many years of more general legal training and work ahead before you can begin to specialise in this application for your knowledge. So how do you keep your values fulfilled?

Volunteering

One of the best ways to connect with your values is to consider some volunteering around your other work/study.  You can see the variety of UK volunteering opportunities on Do-It.

Contact local ‘hubs’ to find out about more opportunities for voluntary work (if you’re here at the moment, Oxford Hub and OCVA are good places to get in touch with, as well as the work centred around the council-owned community centres, and properties housing many local charities, such as the Old Music Hall on Cowley Road, Oxford.

Campaigning

Becoming an active campaigner can involve anything from harnessing online and social media activity, right through to in-person support for meetings and demonstrations. Connecting with campaigning hubs (examples include 38 Degrees and Avaaz) can provide you with the opportunity to participate in organised campaigning, and many larger organisations will provide resources for those that would like to further the campaign on a local or regional level.

Philanthropy

If you have the resources to donate financially, you can do a significant amount of good for the causes you care about. Individual giving can also be supplemented by working to encourage donation from those around you by organising fundraising events and sharing information.

Giving What We Can is an Oxford organisation dedicated to providing information and encouragement for those seeking to give effectively. A US-orientated equivalent, giving recommendations on charities to donate to is Give Well.

Intrapreneurship

Creating change within an institution is something all of us do in work, even in a minor way. If where you are working initially doesn’t meet your values, perhaps your enthusiasm can begin to influence a shift. From connecting with like-minded staff to discuss ideas, to creating business cases for them, you might be surprised how much impact you could (diplomatically!) make.

You can research by using an organisation's website:

  • Reading their annual report (often available on their website – environmental/sustainability reports have been required by law since 2006).
  • Reviewing their organisational values, behaviours or mission statement – often in the ‘about us’ section of their website.
  • Researching their impacts and outputs – from learning how and if they share information with others, to evaluating the effects of their core work in light of your values.
  • Investigating their staff policies: often found near the vacancy section of their website. This might include details of their commitment to equality of opportunity, training and support, volunteering days, child-friendly workplace details and more.

The following alphabetical listing of websites provides a brief sample of research tools that may help you to investigate the policies and practices of particular companies.

It should be noted that they are drawn from a variety of sectors, and exist for a variety of different aims, so their relationships with (and perspectives on) companies may differ considerably. Some are independent organisations that are openly critical of major companies, while others are drawn from the business world, and will provide information on particular schemes and partnerships. They by no means provide absolute answers, but are hopefully useful for your investigations:

Vacancy websites

  • Idealist – global search engine (use ‘United Kingdom’ in ‘Location’ for British jobs)
  • Guardian Jobs – attracts a large number of organisations seeking to improve social outcomes, as a result of its paper supplement ‘Society Jobs’
  • ACRE - CSR and sustainability jobs board
  • Elevator - jobs in charities, social enterprises and other 'purpose driven' companies
  • Social Enteprise UK - job board
  • Igneous Recruitment - CSR and sustainability jobs

Other useful websites

Regular events

A number of major graduate recruiters have policies and processes that are proactive in recruiting students and graduates from diverse backgrounds. To find out the policies and attitudes of employers that you are interested in, explore their equality and diversity policies and see if they are a Disability Confident employer or are recognised for their policy by such indicators as ‘Mindful Employer’ or as a ‘Stonewall’s Diversity Champion’.

The UK law protects you from discrimination due to your age, gender, race, religion or beliefs, disability or sexual orientation. For further information on the Equality Act 2010 and to find out where and how you are protected, and what to do if you feel you have been discriminated against, visit the Government’s website on discrimination.

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