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After searching for a job that would make the world a better place and pay the bills, Olivia Spaethe founded For Purpose Jobs. The jobs platform is fostering a growing community of people who are hungry for change.
By all accounts, Olivia Spaethe was the typical working professional in London; she had a solid education and a promising future in economics. Nonetheless, she still felt her career was missing a connection to the issues she cared about most: social and environmental activism. In her mind, it felt like there were only two options. One option was to work for a charity, earning peanuts, but feeling good about the contributions she was making to the world. The second option was, in Olivia’s words, “working for a regular company”, which provided a decent salary but no sense of purpose or fulfillment.
Frustrated with these two choices, Olivia found the inspiration for her next endeavor. She googled “How to build a job site”, and from there, developed For Purpose Jobs, a platform that helps the environmentally and socially conscious find careers that align with their passions. Olivia is already finding success. Visitors to For Purpose Jobs have doubled every month since its launch in spring of 2020.
We met up with Olivia (online) to talk about why you don’t need to be a scientist to enact change, and how to find a place where you can be doing good while doing well.
Here are excerpts from our conversation. They have been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
OLIVIA: I used to work at companies where you had to constantly be looking for new ways to ‘disrupt’ things, to find new things to do and new ways of doing them. It felt rubbish, because ultimately, I didn't truly believe in ‘what’ we were doing. While we might have been changing things, we weren’t affecting change in any real sense.
Then there was a lightbulb moment, sounds a bit ridiculous, but true. For months I was searching for jobs, going through individual company websites to see if they were looking for someone like me, and endlessly scrolling through job sites and looking at every single ad. I was increasingly frustrated and couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a single place where I could find job listings at environmentally and socially conscious companies.
Then I thought, why don't I just do it myself? I googled “How do you make a job site.” The next weekend I began building it. I added jobs, pushed it live, and immediately saw that a lot of other people felt the same way.
“I think a lot of other people share the feeling of not wanting to use 80% of their day on something that isn’t remotely useful for the planet.”
You don't need to be a scientist or an engineer or a consultant to be a part of environmental and social change. You can be a marketing manager, an office manager or an accountant and still give a shit about the world and want to help make things better. And impact businesses, whether they’re focused on reducing food waste or social inequality, need marketers, office managers and accountants too. So why not make it as easy as possible for the two to come together when it’s win win. People who want to make a positive difference can, and can earn a living whilst doing it, and the change-making organizations on the front-line find the right people to help them fight the fight.
I think a lot of other people share the feeling of not wanting to spend 80% of their day on something that isn’t remotely useful for the planet.
“You don't need to be a scientist or an engineer or a consultant to be a part of environmental or social change.”
There is a YouGov poll from early 2020 that shows that in the UK, 87% of people care about the meaning of their job. They care about whether their job is impactful; this is across all industries, ages and job types.
People who are just beginning their careers as well as those with established paths and careers, it’s the ‘why’ behind the business they care about. Whether they will be part of the problem or part of the solution.
As a society, we care about the ethicality of the companies we choose to give our money to as consumers, and there are more and more of us who expect the same from the companies we take our money from as employees.
I had a few calls with people who had signed up on the platform just to check it out randomly. Every time I had a call with someone, they were describing the same problem that I had. It makes me feel like I'm not the only person who wants this.
I think the new normal should be a job at a company that's impacting the world for the better. We need more and more people working in good companies for good causes.