Posted 13 October 2022

12 ways to find socially responsible employers

Whether you’re searching for your next creative role or looking for clients, you might find an important consideration to be how socially responsible a company or organisation is. And with so many businesses making social justice and climate pledges in recent years, it can be hard to know which ones are actually put into practice. Here, we’ve got some methods to point you in the right direction.

We’ve divided this resource into methods and accreditations to identify socially responsible employers. From investigating companies’ overarching missions and their policies on the environment, to how they treat their workers, scroll to find out how you can identify those who are doing more than the bare minimum.

Steps you can take to determine a socially responsible employer

📚 Read the company’s mission statement

These days, most companies will have a pledge or mission statement that demonstrates their overarching aims. This can be a great first step to see if the company’s purpose aligns with your own values. Do you get the sense that the company is focused heavily on profit-making, for instance, or do they prioritise minimising their carbon footprint?

You can also do some research into the overall company culture by looking them up on sites like Glassdoor to find out whether it has a supportive workplace.

♻️ Look at the company’s sustainability standards

If a company takes sustainability into account in their operations, they’ll usually have a section on their website with a breakdown of the steps they’re taking to become more sustainable. It must be said, however, that some companies are guilty of exaggerating their commitment to sustainability for marketing reasons – so watch out for ‘greenwashing’ and do some digging into their practices. Be suspicious of companies that have ambitious targets; have they published whether they’ve met them or detail the practical actions they’re taking to achieve them? If the answer to either of those is no, then it’s entirely possible they might just be seizing an opportunity to appear green.

Some companies exaggerate their commitment to sustainability for marketing reasons – also known as ‘greenwashing’.

📧 Email or ask companies on social media directly

Sometimes, companies can be so small that they don’t have pages dedicated to sustainability or social practices on their website. In this case, you could email them directly, ideally with a specific question or stance in mind; often they will be happy to share if they are working towards greener practices or have signed pledges, for instance, or readily admit what they can and should do better. If they aren’t able, or otherwise fail to answer, then you have a good idea of where they stand.

💬 Ask questions during job interviews

If it’s a dealbreaker for you, don’t be afraid to ask questions such as: “What does your company do to ensure ethical supply chains?” or, “What kinds of policies do you have for worker wellbeing?” Again, if they have practices in place, they will often be happy to shout about it; such questions will also establish yourself as an employee who is engaged!

🔎 Look into the company’s history

It‘s always good to check whether a company has been in the news for reasons that may not be all positive. A good way to do this? Simply look them up. Social media can be a good starting point as you get a snapshot of people’s concerns and gripes with the company that might have evaded news coverage. It’s also worth looking them up on a search engine with key words such as ‘controversy’.

If you do unearth some unsavoury findings, make sure to do your research as to whether they have or are taking steps to improve.

Beyond your own research, there are also some accreditations and tools with different sets of criteria you can use to help determine whether a company or organisation is operating ethically.


Purpose: Ethical supply chain

If you’re hoping to work as a creative for a company within food, retail, beauty or fashion, look out for the Fairtrade logo on their website or product. This certification ensures that accredited companies are meeting a set of standards in production or supply of a product. Whether you’re hoping to design packaging logos, code a website or write brand copy, you can be assured that by working with a Fairtrade company, you’ll be supporting workers’ rights, safe working conditions and fair pay.

Read more about Fairtrade here

Living Wage Foundation

Purpose: Fair wages

Find out whether a potential employer is paying their staff wages that meet the basic cost of living by looking out for a Living Wage logo on their website. This means that they pay staff at least the National Living Wage (£10.90 per hour as of 2022), or London Living Wage if located in the capital (£11.95 per hour as of 2022).

This is higher than the government minimum wage and has been calculated independently to ensure wages can account for unexpected costs. It increases yearly in line with inflation and companies will need to reapply for the accreditation each year.

Read more about Living Wage Foundation

Ethical Job Seeker

Purpose: Source purpose-driven jobs and companies
Mostly media, PR, marketing and communications

This jobs board helps those seeking work find a role or organisation focused on social impact and responsibility. While they don’t cover every creative discipline, they typically have media, PR, marketing and communications roles available. It can also give you a broader feel for the ethical job market and the companies that exist within it.

Read more about Ethical Job Seeker here

Clean Creatives

Purpose: Environmental
Advertising and PR

Clean Creatives is a group of advertising workers that are calling for sustainability in the industry. Companies can sign the Clean Creatives pledge to refuse to work with clients that pollute the environment. The group has also compiled a list of PR and advertising agencies excluded from the pledge that acts as a sort of blacklist.

This is a great way to identify agencies that are united in the fight against fossil fuels and climate destruction – and, similarly, which of them continue to avoid the call.

Read more about Clean Creatives here

Fashion Revolution

Purpose: Social and environmental
Fashion and Retail

If you’re hoping to work as a creative within fashion but are concerned about potentially contributing to the industry’s notoriously far-reaching social and environmental problems, then have a look at Fashion Revolution.

The non-profit organisation has a Transparency Index that reviews 250 of the largest fashion brands and retailers worldwide and ranks them according to how much they publicise their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts. It’s also a great tool to keep on top of the ethical gold standards for fashion brands when job hunting.

Read more about Fashion Revolution here

Business in the Community (BitC)

Purpose: Environmental practices, fair wages and employee treatment

BitC works and campaigns with over 600 organisations and companies to ensure they are developing responsible business practices and working towards efforts for greater social and environmental impact in our communities.

The non-profit is focused on awarding companies that help to develop an inclusive workforce, deliver achievable climate action plans and build thriving communities. BitC members vary in terms of industry, but there are large companies and organisations that hire creatives – with all members listed on their website.

See more from BitC here

B Corp

Purpose: Social and environmental

B Corp is a process that certifies a company’s social and environmental impact. They carry out an assessment on companies that apply, which looks at practices across workers, community, the environment, how the company is run as well as how they treat customers. Though B Corp covers a vast number of industries, a number of creative companies have been certified, and you can look up and filter for them in their directory.

Read more about B Corp here

This list is non-exhaustive – so please get in touch at [email protected] if you know of any other ways to look for socially responsible employers in the creative industry.

Written by Creative Lives in Progress