At a recent event at the University of Bradford School of Management sustainability in the workplace was put under the spotlight, with delegates discussing what skills, attributes and characteristics people need for the future. In the second of a series of blogs about the event, student Sukhy Rai, who is studying MSc Applied Management and Sustainability, shares her thoughts.
The seminar on Working in the Context of Sustainability, Ethics and CSR offered some unique insights into the issue and from professionals currently working in the sustainability field. Their experiences were invaluable and were very informative for any individuals wishing to carry out a career within the field.
Steven Butts from Morrisons discussed the everyday issues he faces and the impact on the quality processes required to carry out successful corporate social responsibility (CSR), ethics and sustainability agendas.
Morrisons is one of the biggest retailers in the country and it was interesting to hear the steps and measures they take to ensure they are sustainably responsible as well as continually profitable.
Careers in sustainability
Steven also shared his career journey and explained what qualities he was looking for in potential staff and what knowledge they would need to have. It was a rare insight for those wanting to follow suit and mimic his career path.
His senior position within Morrisons meant he was able to provide expert knowledge and advice that would aid and assist young professionals and longstanding professionals alike.
One of the key lessons I learnt from him was that it is never too late to start, having changed from a legal profession to a more CSR role, it demonstrated that the industry is open to all. This is important advice as individuals may think that their degree disciplines do not qualify them for the sector – nine times out of 10, they will.
The importance of CSR
Also speaking was Tom Smith, who worked within the same field, from a completely different standpoint.
Tom demonstrated there is an ability to participate in the industry, regardless of longevity or experience. His company, SEDEX, has rapidly grown and assists companies with sustainability, ethics and CSR. This growth demonstrates that this industry is gaining momentum and there are a growing number of career opportunities.
His in-depth knowledge was clear and it was apparent that, despite working in the sustainability debate on an international level, he still had less of a managerial perspective and more of an activist viewpoint.
This was particularly important as it shows the profession is as important as any other and gave confidence to anyone wanting to pursue the profession. The biggest thing people could take away from his speech was that this industry is growing and anyone hoping to enter into the industry can have confidence that there are opportunities out there.
Both these speakers provided in depth advice and information regarding working in the field and laid good knowledge foundations for any students of graduates, as well as current professionals.
Working together on sustainability
Following the speakers was a workshop – where existing knowledge and newly learned knowledge was put into test.
The workshop required similar individuals to work together to understand what the sustainability, ethics and CSR industry would require, and these groups were then mixed across all the groups.
This allowed for similar and like-minded individuals to discuss, and then take these newly formed ideas and discuss with different individuals with different viewpoints.
The workshop was fantastic as it allowed for professionals to advise, guide and discuss with potential professionals the context of working in sustainability, ethics and CSR. The workshop meant that rather than hearing the professionals speak and leave with knowledge that you might forget by the time you’ve had a coffee, that you used the knowledge and applied it to a series of interactive and testing activities.
It proved to be fantastic for anybody wanting to progress into this industry and the key lessons I’ve learned from this experience are to go forward in what you want to do, no matter how big or small. The world of sustainability, ethics and CSR is huge and ever-growing, with room for all those passionate about making a difference.
The key question remains, can you really expect things to change if you rely on others to change it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.