The environmental credentials of potential recruiters will soon be available to students as a consequence of a new initiative by the University’s Careers Service.
Any potential employer of Oxford students seeking to promote roles for students via the University’s CareersConnect service will have to answer a number of questions about their approach to reducing carbon emissions.
This will be in line with the Oxford Martin Principles for Climate-Conscious Investment. These relate to how business can work out a schedule for profitably reaching net zero emissions by 2050. This is part of an ongoing attempt to enable students to make climate-conscious choices for their future careers by highlighting the approach of various organisations to climate change.
The momentum behind the initiative came from both the Careers Service and the Student Union. Kaya Axelson, Vice-President for Charities and Communities at the Student Union, said she had been “thrilled to be working with [the University’s] careers service to protect students’ futures and provide them with professional development opportunities to lead in the 21st century.”
She said: “Oxford Students want to join organisations that are preparing for the future not relying on business models of the past. Over half the world has committed to a net zero target by 2050 and the other half has to get on board for my generation to have a reasonable chance of growing up in a future below two degrees average warming.”
The Director of Oxford University’s Careers Service, Jonathan Black, suggested that this was part of a broader effort on the part of the Careers Service to incorporate students’ environmental concerns into their work.
He said: “As part of this, we are actively exploring ways to help students learn about organisations’ approaches to sustainability. As a result, we hope that those students for whom sustainability is an important factor in their decisionmaking will be better informed.”
Consequently, the Careers Service has indicated that it is also considering publishing the data gathered from potential recruiters in future careers fairs’ booklets and similar publications and providing a special emblem for companies that demonstrate their commitment to sustainability on the CareersConnect website.
The Oxford Martin Principles for Climate-Conscious Investment, published by the Oxford Martin School, a research and policy unit based in the University’s Social Sciences Division, are threefold: an explicit commitment to net-zero emissions on the part of businesses, the production of a profitable net-zero business model and quantitative medium-term targets for achieving them.
Professor Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science, and Head of the Climate Dynamics Group in the University of Oxford’s Department of Physics, said: “It’s great to see the Oxford Martin Principles for Carbon-conscious Investment being applied in this way: the biggest investment many of us make in our lives is who we choose to work for. It would be great to see Oxford graduates voting with their feet and voting for the future.”
These principles were previously used in drawing up St Hilda’s plans for divestment. The college choose to remove its investments in the near future from companies whose policies diverged from the principles’ guidelines.
Though responding to the questions is currently only voluntarily, the Careers Service is positive about their impact so far. Over 200 companies have currently ticked ‘Yes’ in response to the question ‘Does your organisation recognise the climate crisis?’ Seventy three companies have provided supporting information about their commitment to sustainability.
Oxford is currently the only university in the country to implement such a scheme but it is hoped by the Careers Service that this will set a precedent for universities across the United Kingdom and beyond.