The Future of Work Capsules: The future workplace and green careers  

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Baptista Sarah Gebu (Mrs.)

We say a job is ‘green’ if that job or self-employment genuinely contributes to a more sustainable world. How green will your career be in the future workplace? How green will you want your job to be? What green skills will you need to promote sustainability and retention? Have you heard of Green Careers? Welcome to the future of work capsules and green careers. How green will your organisation, church or association be? How will the concept of the green careers lead us to a green religion and spiritual awakening in readiness of Christ’s soon second coming? We must learn to be very good stewards first of our bodies, which is the temple of God, and secondly the environment, in my opinion.

Green Careers, Green Skills, Hybrid Green Professional and the Green Economy

Green Careers must begin with a green steward. Without a good green steward, the environment will have no care–givers; and neither can there be green careers in the future workplaces. Let’s view this discourse holistically and not in isolation. Green Careers must begin with green stewards. Be agile. If you’re interested in the environment, there are several jobs and green careers that can help you make a positive impact. Each job in the green sector will allow us to make a difference as it relates to the Earth, sustainability and conservation at large.

Whether you want to make a hands-on contribution or help from afar, there are many jobs that can use your unique skill-set. You may want to start thinking along the lines of being a farm manager, environmental specialist or scientist, a green hybrid professional, a solar installer, a wind-turbine technician, a landscape architect, a natural resource manager or recycling expert, a tourism conservation officer, among others. Green tourism that aims at protecting the environment – plants and animals – has created lots of job opportunities in our national parks and theme parks.

Any occupation that is affected by activities such as conserving energy, developing alternative energy, reducing pollution, recycling or environmental preservation can be termed a green occupation or career.  Green careers are professional jobs that contribute to environmental preservation, conservation and sustainability. Individuals with these types of jobs are green-collar employees or Green Hybrid Professional – typically for the freelancers.

Their job duties vary, but they generally promote environmentally-conscious decisions and policies, and aim to improve a variety of environmental issues such as water and air pollution, recycling, energy and gas. There are several employment opportunities for you to make a positive contribution to the planet. Once you understand the options available, it’s easy to find a green career that matches your skill-set and expertise.  Or better, still develop one.

Green skills, on the other hand, refers to “the knowledge, abilities, values and attitudes needed to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society” (Cedefop, 2012). Green skills will be needed by all sectors and at all levels in the workforce.

According to UNEP (2011) [78], a green economy is one that considers “low-carbon, resource efficiency, and is socially inclusive”; with the main objective leading to “improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”. The ‘Green Development’ theme has identified six strategic pillars to include: climate change, resource saving and management, circular economy, environmental protection, ecosystem protection and recovery, water conservation and natural disaster prevention.

Humanity’s ability to make development sustainable and some examples of green careers

Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The concept of sustainable development does imply limits — not absolute limits but limitations imposed by the present state of technology and social organisation on environmental resources, and by the environment’s ability to absorb effects of human activities as put forward by the World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987:8.

Greenhouse warming is the most discussed aspect of long-term global climate change. ‘Greenhouse’ in this context refers to the prospect of global warming driven by substances introduced into the atmosphere by human activities. Some green careers have emerged as a result of this concept and include: green insurance, green accounting and green marketing.

Green insurance (also often referred to as eco-friendly insurance) can be defined as insurance that not only covers people in case of injury or damage, but also contributes to protecting our environment. Insurance companies encourage consumers to go green by providing products and discounts that promote a more sustainable life.

For instance, this could mean that a fraction of the insurance premium is donated to environmental-friendly projects, initiatives and organisations in order to plant trees in our rainforests; and the types include: green car insurance, green business insurance, eco-friendly home insurance, green travel insurance, eco-friendly liability insurance, green life insurance, eco-friendly health insurance, among others.

Green accounting is a type of accounting that attempts to factor environmental costs into the financial results of operations. It has been argued that gross domestic product ignores the environment, and therefore policymakers need a revised model that incorporates green accounting.  Accounting systems should be structured so that they “show for all capital – man-made, natural and human — the ratio of stock at the end of the period to that at the beginning”. A new system of sustainable accounting, known as Green Accounting, has emerged that permits the calculation of earnings for a nation by taking into account economic destruction and depletion in the natural resource base of an economy.

Green marketing is the process of promoting products or services based on their environmental benefits, which could look at developing and selling environmentally friendly goods or services. When we market products that are presumed to be environmentally safe, we say one is practicing green marketing. It incorporates a broad range of activities – including product modification, changes to the production process, sustainable packaging, as well as modifying advertising.
The 4Ps of marketing when incorporated with green are called Green Product, Green Price, Green Place and Green Promotion. Interesting, isn’t it?

Green Human Resource Management (GHRM) and Green Management

Green Human Resource Management (Green HRM) is that aspect and practice of HRM which pursues the goal of environmental sustainability. Its aim will be to reconcile the goals of companies and society without compromising company goals. When we create, enhance and retain greening within each employee of our organisation, we enable these individual employees to support and contribute to be environmentalists, ecologists, non-polluters and inventors.

When individual employees and organisations as a whole support and understand the need to save paper by instead using devices to take notes, think of the environment before printing that paper and/or documents; check every leaking water source to save water in the organisation, for instance; promote teleconferencing, mandate employees to meet a specific green score in their performance appraisal goals – then we say we are practicing green HRM or management.

Some benefits which can be derived from GHRM include cost-sharing, among others. It is very important to know that human resource management can be said to be different from GHRM in a way. This is because in green HR and HRM, policies are used to stimulate and support the sustainable use of resources and preserve the natural environment. Green HR focuses on the development, implementation and maintenance of all activities aimed at making staff members supportive and committed to sustainable goals. This is irrespective of whether the organisation’s main business is into conservation, preservation or promotion of sustainable environment.

In my opinion, the biggest success for HRM in this regard will be supporting employees to be good stewards, and understand what that clearly means ahead of introducing the concept of green employees. Green HR consists of two essential elements: environmentally-friendly HR practices and the preservation of knowledge capital. It entails undertaking environmentally-friendly initiatives resulting in greater efficiency, lower costs and better employee engagement and retention, which in turn help organisations to reduce carbon according to research.

Green management on the other hand, looks at the paradigm that includes improving environmental awareness, using energy resources and eco-friendly technologies, reuse of waste and recycling activities – starting from production activities of businesses to packaging and delivering to consumers.

Welcome to the future workplace and green careers. How will you define your green preferred career for the future workplace? Let’s hear from you!

Baptista is a human resource professional with a broad generalist background. Building an efficient & effective workforce team is her business. Affecting lives is her calling!  She is a Hybrid Professional, HR Generalist and strategic planner; innovative, professional connector; and a motivator. You can reach her via e-mail on [email protected]

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