Depending on job skills and experience, employees may have a strong leverage on policies of employers. During an existing job contract, committment (eg dependence on salary, housing, job of partner, school for children) of an employee maybe rather high, giving him or her little influence. However, during an application process while committment is still low and ideally the employee still has an existing job contract, he or she may have considerable influence on the the employer. In addition, if the position is filled by a recruitment agency, there may be leverage to influence the recruitment agency or use their role to obtain more information about the sustainability policy of the employer. In the following I am listing question which I found relevant from a sustainability perspective. The perspective which I am applying here is that an employee is an entrepreneur of his own workforce and can enforce his own company values and use them to select his business partners. Although it will be difficult to find an employer, which fulfill all criteria, depending on the industry of the employer, asking one or more of these questions, will already have an effect on the the recruitment process, the company, the industry, or the overall economy, depending on how many candidate ask these questions.
2. Questions on sustainability for potential employers or business partners
- Does the organisation show an unsustainable use of natural ressources?
Note: Unsustainable use of natural resources is expected to decrease the well-being of humans, animals, or plants (esp indigenous people or wild life) in the long-term over a time scale of up to 500 years based on current science.
Negative example: Fossil-fuel industry
- Does the organisation show an unsustainable use of human ressource?
Note: Unsustainable use of human resources is expected to decrease equality of quality of life (incl. financial wealth, physical, emotional, mental health) in a way, which is considered immoral by substantial proportion of members (>25%) of the company, professional organization, country or legal system, which the company is operating in. The definition of a substantial proportion of members may depend on the size of the subgroup, whose resources may be used in an unsustainable way (ie exploited).
Negative example: Fashion industry, electronics industry
- Does the organisation show an unsustainable use of animal ressources?
Note: Unsustainable use of animal ressources is expected to decrease the quality of life (incl. physical, emotional, mental health) in comparison to life of the animal in its natural eco system or is expected to affect the balance of its natural eco system (cf biodiversity) in a way, which threatens its long-term stability over a time scale of up to 500 years.
Negative example: Meat and dairy industry
- Does the organisation show an unsustainable use of its or others financial ressources?
Note: Unsustainable use of its or other financial ressources threatens the functioning of the organisation or other organisation or systems, eg society, based on current science in a way which is considered immoral by substantial proportion of members (>25%) of the company, professional organization, country or legal system, which the company is part of.
Negative example: Companies which own funds in countries with very low “effective” tax rates (“tax havens”, “tax avoidance”), while using the infrastructure (eg administration, traffic, health, education) of a country.
- Does the organisation show an unsustainable use of resources of information and social values?
Note: Unsustainable use of resources of information is any use of information which is expected to lead to an unsustainable use of natural, human, animal, or financial resources by filtering information, propagating misinformation (“fake news”), attacks on validated sources of information (eg scientists, journalists, insiders, whistleblowers), or attacks on social networks for the exchange of information (not misinformation). In addition, any use of resources of social values (eg discrimination, hate) which is expected to lead an unsustainable use of the listed resources above is considered unsustainable.
Negative example: NewsCorp (founded by Ruport Murdoch), (authoritarian) governments (eg US government under President Trump), Facebook
The definition of sustainability (ie what is “good”) is difficult because it does not only rely on science, ie long-term predictions, but also on philosophical values on social norms regarding what is acceptable. For example, human decisions leading to the extinction of the small pox virus or other disease-causing organisms may be considered sustainable (“good”), while decisions leading to the extinction of the great apes, eg the Orang Utan, may be unsustainable (“bad”). As a rule of thumb, I used a reference of 25% of a society to assess what is considered good (moral) or bad (immoral), which may, however, may have to be adapted depending on the size of the subpopulation and the degree of use of its ressources (ie degree of exploitation).
The above questions do not include the well-being of non-human or non-animal forms of life directly, but only as far as indirectly the long-term well-being of humans or animals as sentient beings is affected.