Political and ethical issues employment guide
Employers look to recruit students and graduates who are concerned about their impact on the world and are passionate about making a difference. In this employment guide we'll share tips on how to find employers that match your values and advice on talking about your views.
As you research different opportunities and employers you may want to consider your personal views and how these relate to the type of career you're interested in. If finding an employer who shares your values or views on particular issues is important to you, make sure you include this in your research.
Opportunities - what to look for when researching employers
Focus your employer research on each company’s values and commitments. You can also assess an employer on their social and environmental performance:
- Research companies that interest you to find out whether their policies and ethics match your own views, as well as your career aspirations. Please refer to our guide to researching an employer for more information.
- Take a look at the organisation’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy. Consider what it says about equal opportunities, environmental issues, sustainability and community relations.
- Explore the news stories available on the employer’s website, in newspapers and journals. Are they talking about their work in the community or sustainability projects? Are they attracting negative attention in the news for their business activities?
- Search the employer’s organisational values and code of ethics. Organisations such as Business in the Community can be helpful in identifying top-ranked employers.
- The website 80,000 hours offers a range of advice on alternative approaches to ethical issues in careers.
- Certified B Corporation: companies with this certification have undergone a thorough assessment of their social and environmental performance, from the treatment of workers and raw materials used, to supply chain and charitable giving. There are Certified B Corp employers in a wide range of sectors and the website has a searchable directory.
- Vercida.com: you can filter the jobs on this website according to the types of initiatives the employers offer, for example, gender equality, LGBT, race/ethnic minority, disability, wellbeing, corporate social responsibility.
What do you need to tell a potential employer
Making the decision as to whether or not to mention any political or campaign activity to an employer is a personal choice. However, if you decide to do so, you may wish to carefully consider how you present this information.
Your decision may be affected by 3 key things:
- How relevant they are to the employer
- Whether there's a potential conflict of interest between your values and activities and those of the employer
- Whether they may affect your ability to do the role
Aim to avoid getting into a discussion about your political beliefs or values unless they're clearly and directly relevant to the job you're applying to. If they are, take the same approach you would to answering any other interview question, discussing your activities in terms of their relevance to the job.
Consider the skills and qualities you've gained from the experience which align with those the employer is looking for. Involvement with a student society or a campaign group may have helped you gain skills in teamwork, problem solving, organisation and negotiation.
Politically restricted jobs
It's important to be aware that some employers can legitimately restrict political activity in certain roles. For example, the Civil Service and local government.
Civil Service posts are designated as either ‘politically free’ with no restrictions on political activities, or ‘politically restricted. You'll need to consider this before applying and accepting a role.