“Green” principles influence personal life, but not job search, MIT Sloan survey finds

But once established, environmental factors assume greater importance, say MBAs

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., June 16, 2008 — As they leave their Cambridge campus and seek or begin jobs across the globe, MIT Sloan MBA students say that while being “green” is important in their personal lives, a firm's record on sustainability is not a decisive force as they ponder employment opportunities early in their careers, according to a survey conducted last month.

Only about a quarter of the nearly 400 graduate students responding to the survey said they have actually examined a potential employer's environmental record; about 60 percent said they were more concerned with securing a position than taking such a record into account. But that could change as the MBAs become more established in their careers, with more than 75 percent saying a company's environmental record and commitment to sustainable business practices will likely become a greater factor.

“Realistically, a firm's environmental performance isn't too important right now,” said Garrett Dodge, an Indiana native who is seeking employment in consumer technology or innovation. “I think it would be an issue if an employer was notorious for its environmental record. A poor environmental record is also indicative of a firm that may lack judgment in other areas, such as human resources or accounting. Clearly, that kind of firm is not the place to start a career.”

The MIT Sloan survey found that while 93 percent of students feel the sustainability movement creates a strong opportunity to create jobs, services and products, 75 percent of respondents believe that clearer guidelines are needed as to what actually constitutes a green or sustainable business.

Like other respondents, Dodge said he is more likely to incorporate green principles in his daily life. “I do pay more attention to environmental issues in my personal life because it is easier to make changes,” he said. More than half of the students surveyed said they have switched brands in the last six months for a product that contains all natural ingredients, and about half prefer to purchase environmentally friendly products.

About half of all respondents plan to launch their own businesses, and nearly 80 percent of them believe they can maintain their bottom line while minimizing their impact on the environment by starting their business with sustainable business practices in place. Erica Morgan Sims said she plans to start a business as an affordable housing real estate developer. “I never anticipated having green design as part of my model,” says the Michigan native. “I thought affordability and green development were fairly incompatible, but now I see it as a potential cost advantage.”

The survey was conducted from April 2 to 15, 2008. Of 376 total respondents, 57 percent have found job, 28 percent are still looking and 15 percent already were employed before enrolling at Sloan.

For over fifty years, the MIT Sloan School of Management, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been one of the world's leading academic sources of innovation in management theory and practice. With students from more than 60 countries, it develops effective, innovative, and principled leaders who advance the global economy.

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