Gideon Burrows (ed), 'Just Works Ethical Careers Guide'

IssueNovember 2005
Review by Jenny Gaiawyn

This Guide is easy to understand and provides a good introduction to the steadily growing and varied fields of ethical careers. The articles and profiles cover the public and private sectors as well as voluntary work, and advice is given not only on how to get involved in the more obviously ethical careers such as environmental consultants and community workers, but introducing the growing opportunities offered as more and more companies, even “evil multinationals”, create corporate responsibility departments.

Although the cover and much of the inside layout gives the impression that this is aimed at recent graduates, the book shows how pretty much any qualifications and experience can be turned to good use, opening the door for people wanting a career change or returning to work after a career break.

Through using real case studies, the Ethical Career Profiles provide realistic insights into how to take that first step, and what qualifications and experience can be useful. These are well complemented by individual features on careers and issues ranging from fashion, through the environment, to fair trade and taking a productive “gap” year. Both these sections mention the good and the bad, highlighting the problems and pitfalls that may be encountered.

Perspectives sections give additional information on ways of incorporating ethical living into daily life, such as how to get self employed, how science can be ethical, and the Mark Thomas article about “proper jobs” reminds the reader just how easy it is to kid yourself that a non-ethical career is okay, when really it isn't.

The “Purple Pages” are a disappointment, considering the claims at the beginning of the book about soaring ethical consumerism and awareness. There are too few entries and the local organisations seem pointless for a nationally distributed book, as there are no contacts for most areas. More useful for follow-up are the websites provided at the end of the articles and profiles.

This is more of a rough guide than the “definitive” guide it claims to be, but it is a useful introduction and shows that whilst it might be easier to get a job with an ethically dubious company, for those inspired to do the extra footwork required, it is possible to live our ideals in a more constructive manner.

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