Jeslin Jacob was just a few years out of business school when she encountered a sustainability challenge she felt passionate about.
Troubled by the fiberglass waste her company, a roofing manufacturer, was sending to the landfill, she approached higher-ups about seeking alternative solutions. Despite their tepid response, it was important enough to her that she took it upon herself to develop a market for the fiberglass dust, not only diverting waste from the landfill but also saving her company thousands of dollars annually. The company has since expanded her fiberglass recycling program to other plants.
“The recycling project got integrated into the regular manufacturing process very quickly, so that it barely seems like a special project now," she said. "I feel like I’ve left an invisible green signature on the products we make. And the more products we sell, the greater the impact of the project. Now that is a great incentive for me to grow business and that makes every day at work satisfying."
Jacobs is just one example of the employee loyalty and dedication that can be inspired by companies that take sustainability efforts seriously -- even if those workers have to overcome institutional hurdles to make their voices heard.
Employees who feel they can make an impact on social and environmental issues while on the job are twice as satisfied with work as those who don’t, according to a new study released by Net Impact, a nonprofit membership group aimed at helping business-school graduates make a social and environmental impact. The nationwide study conducted by Rutgers University and funded by The John and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation shows 49 percent of workers who have impact opportunities on the job report high satisfaction levels, compared with 24 percent of those who don't.
We see these satisfaction levels reinforced when digging into the ways people feel connected to impact through their jobs. For example, 45 percent of employees who say they worked directly on a product or service that makes a positive social impact are very satisfied with their jobs, compared to 29 percent of those who don’t. The research finds similar numbers for people who provide input on sustainability or corporate responsibility issues at work, or volunteer alongside their co-workers.
One such employee is Jasdeep Garcha, a Program Manager at Microsoft who is two years out of Duke University and co-leads Net Impact’s first corporate chapter, a group of 250 Microsoft employees who want to engage on social and environmental issues through their company. They’ve started a speaker series to provide forums for employees to hear about and discuss different Microsoft citizenship initiatives.
“It’s a way we’ve been trying to internalize our commitment to citizenship," said Garcha, who was active with social impact and entrepreneurship work at college. “I’m passionate about this stuff," he added. "I met my technology passion with my day job. The Net Impact chapter allowed me to satiate the other part of who I am.”
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