You may be stuck in a job you don’t like, where you feel like you don’t have any control. That’s okay, you don’t have to be a high-powered executive to do some good. In fact, you may be the only person that can. When my co-author Billy Parish and I interviewed people for Making Good, our book on finding meaning, money, and community, we didn’t just talk to the all-star social entrepreneurs. We dug a little deeper and talked to a lot of people that were in jobs that simply weren’t ideal for making change. Somehow not only were they making good, but they were finding meaning in the most unlikely of places. Follow the tips below that we took from their experiences and see what you can make happen in your job:
Companies purchase an enormous amount of things: paper, toner, office furniture. And today there are products in almost all categories that are better for the world than your standard run-of-the-mill, made in China product. Start with something simple like paper, see if you can find your company a better alternative, and then continue, one purchasing decision at a time. Today a good product doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more expensive. By slowly moving your company toward supporting the emerging world of products doing good, who knows where it could end up?
Every industry is filled with small design flaws that produce extra waste, that are unnecessary, and that drain energy, time, and resources. You are the only one that knows what these are for your company. It could be the clothes the store throws out at the end of the season or the offshoots of some industrial process in the plant you work for. Rethink the potential of this waste and repurpose it for good all while making it more efficient. Notice something that needs changing that people on the outside would never see.
Every industry has a language, a lexicon, and a way of thinking. You know it by just by being involved. You can be a translator. Reach out to a community group that is working to change something in your industry and present yourself as a translator willing to help them. Give them advice on framing their issue, on describing it in a way that will be heard, and on understanding where the other side is coming from. They need it and you have the skills. They would love to hear from you.
It could be as simple as asking a supplier about their labor practices or asking a partner what they are doing to be more environmentally friendly. Ask the question and watch them scramble to find an answer and keep your business. Just making it clear that it is something your company cares about can spur them to try to justify themselves and do some good—even if you don’t have higher up approval.
From big banks to small businesses, tons of companies are pledging to go carbon neutral. One reason this is happening is because companies are actually saving money by making processes more efficient and converting buildings to higher standards. Talk to operations, talk to the CSR department, or send an email to your boss telling them you are interested in pushing this forward in the company. You may end up the hero saving the company money, while doing some good.