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Choosing Employers That Reflect Your Values

An employer’s support for non-discrimination, employee rights protections, health and wellness, global sustainability, financial fairness, and/or job security could matter quite a bit to you right now. How do you find and evaluate the organization on more than the words on their website? The words certainly matter, but we suggest you go deeper than that. Find out what actions they have taken to support the principles that are important to you. 

While it helps to be flexible when seeking an internship or first job, it doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive and increase the chances of finding an employer that you can believe in and feel good about working for. If it can’t happen now, you can make sure it will as you plan your long term career goals. The first and most important step towards these goals is creating a list of organizations that is right for you and align with your values.

Five methods to research employers for their demonstrated support of what’s important to you:

  1. Look for organizations that are supporting the causes that are important to you. If it is racial justice and awareness –  look at what anti-racist actions they are taking to promote social justice and advancement for BIPOC leaders in their company. If climate change is important to you, look at what organizations are partnering with efforts to decrease carbon emissions. If a fair wage is something you believe in, what companies are being recognized for paying ALL of their employees fairly?
  2. Find curated lists of companies that are leading with their values and actions.
    • B-Corp Directory – businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. (Check out their anti-racism resources.)
    • Idealist – states on their website: “Working with others, in a spirit of generosity and mutual respect, we want to help build a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives.” Check out the organization or job/internship search, in which you can pick issues that are important to you.
    • Fortune’s Rankings of Companies – Lists of best companies to work for, most powerful women, most admired companies and those that will change the world. Be sure to look at the criteria they use and see if it fits what you would use to evaluate a company.
    • Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index – Rating workplaces on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Equality. Check out their best places to work section also.
    • Diversity, Inc – Top Companies for Diversity – scroll down the page for the list of top 50 and their “Hall of Fame”
    • Great Places to Work for Diversity – certification program for organizations, there are other lists for women, millennials, etc.
    • Getting Hired – employers who want to hire veterans and people with disabilities
    • Goinglobal H1-B Database – database of employers who have sponsored H1-B visas. Easily access this subscription resource through the my Career Center gadget in myBucknell
  3. Read the organization’s website and go deeper. Certainly read the About Us section and Mission. After that, keep looking for clues. Do they have a values statement? Do they list the actions they have taken to support the values and mission they are stating? Check out and follow the employer’s social media as a way to learn more about their values and culture.
  4. Read what other news sources say about the organization. 
    • Use Databases A-Z through the library to find resources such as Nexis-Uni, NetAdvantage, or Hoover’s Company Profiles, to find news articles about the organizations you are considering.
    • Try a google search and filter by News to see what comes up. Look beyond the first page.
  5. Talk to alumni or others that you know who work for the organization. 
    • Talk with current and past employees. Use the general search field in the Bucknell University LinkedIn page (select alumni) to find the organization in their profile. 
    • Think about what questions will help you find out more about how the organization lives up to how they describe themselves. 
    • During the conversation, don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions to their positive comments about the organization: why do they say that and what does/did the employer do to cause them to feel the way they do?

After all of this effort, if you end up working at an organization that is not acting in ways you agree with, you can make a great impact for the employees and constituents it serves by speaking up about your concerns. However, since you will be new, more vulnerable, and likely have less power and knowledge of the history and players in the organization, connect with affinity groups and mentors who do have more power to help you get your message to the places where it can make a difference.

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