Creative Innovative Socially-Good Companies
November 29, 2008 4:46 PM   Subscribe

Which companies and organisations are big on innovation, creativity, doing good, and support flexible work styles and ethics?

I'm jobhunting at the moment and I've found that the company culture and industries they work in are just as important - if not more so - than the specific job role. I'd be happy to work in any role in those sort of companies (so long as I have enough skills); however, I'm finding it hard to find job searches that let you define the industry/style of the hiring company.

I'm after companies and organisations that put value on creativity, innovation, doing social good, flexibility, ideas, and ethical practice (they don't have to be super-strong in all those aspects, one or two main ones would do). At the moment I'm not worried about location - I may have to move internationally anyway, and travel is a huge bonus.

I have skills in arts and events management, cross-cultural communication & integration, general administration, strategy & policy, dealing with young people, research, idea generation, performance and presentation, writing & editorial, and working with the web - but I'm willing to learn new skills or work in something basic and entry-level if it's with the right company.

Some ideas of companies that look interesting:

Google (I'd LOVE to work for them but they seem to only be hiring tech engineers - and I know naught about software engineering)
WhatIf Innovation
GOOD Magazine
Up with People (I've volunteered with them and they have one of the best office cultures I've ever seen)
United Nations (though I've heard that they can be frustratingly bureaucratic)

Which other companies/organisations can I add to the list? How do I find more companies/organisations that fit my needs?
posted by divabat to Work & Money (13 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
in the US as a general industry that is pretty good about the things you are wanting ad would need someone with your skills i would recommend the craft brewing industry, for example new belgium is on tons of lists as one of the top companies to work at. its not easy to get a job in craft brewing but marketing and sales are the easiest and the industry have still been doing fairly good despite the economy.

other than that i would concentrate on smaller companies that produce some kind of product that is marketed directly to consumers.
posted by humanawho at 5:07 PM on November 29, 2008

This is a great question, and I'll be watching for others' responses.

I know there are watchdog organizations out there looking to help investors, so maybe companies that get high marks for their socially conscious ways from that quarter would be worth looking into?

And what about the whole non-profit scene?, for example

If I were in your shoes, I might try connecting with the career development offices of some of the colleges/universities known for their socially conscious students, and ask where THOSE students are landing. (I'm all about tapping into the knowledge of folks just a few years ahead of where you are now.)

How might you structure this call for input so that the maximum number of people see it and want to add their $.02?
posted by Shelley at 5:13 PM on November 29, 2008

Response by poster: Shelley: I love non-profit work, so yes, feel free to suggest - however, I have worked in non-profits where the company culture left something to be desired, so I'm not going to look to them just because they're non-profit.

I'm not aware of any universities where the students are especially socially conscious. I could ask my own university, but other references would be helpful.
posted by divabat at 5:15 PM on November 29, 2008

Hyatt, maybe? They are particularly good in what respects human rights, specifically GLBT rights.

There's this, but I would take it with a very large grain of salt (more like a rock, really) :
posted by Andorinha at 6:16 PM on November 29, 2008

You may want to check out, where you can read reviews from past and current employees. Personally, I work for Travelocity and it's one of the best companies I've ever worked for in regards to flexibility, doing social good but not super high on creativity and innovation.
posted by lannanh at 6:43 PM on November 29, 2008

creativity & innovation makes me think of ideo.

another approach might be pursuing informational interviews with directors at companies that fulfill these values. find out who they admire, and who they'd collaborate with or work for if the opportunity arose.
posted by theflash at 7:10 PM on November 29, 2008

You might also want to look into B Corporations, though I'm not sure how much of the emphasis is on company cultures (though some of it is).

Disclaimer - I work at one of the founding companies.
posted by polexa at 10:23 PM on November 29, 2008

You could start with The Times' Best 100 Companies to work for, which also includes the top 100 small companies and other companies that have been singled out as good places to work for various reasons.
posted by triggerfinger at 3:46 AM on November 30, 2008

I read an interesting article in Forbes about Honda that you might be interested in. It sounds like a company full of innovation and where the engineers are truly valued.
posted by losvedir at 7:33 AM on November 30, 2008

I'll throw a first-person recommendation for my own company in the mix (never thought I'd find myself actually promoting my employer, but there you have it).

(consulting / technology / outsourcing)

innovation - its an integral part of what we do, its not just encouraged, its a deal breaker.
creativity - although the environment for this is sometimes client-dependent, this is also vital.
doing good - I've come to really respect the Corporate Social Responsibility that my company demonstrates. I spent a year working in Africa with an NGO as part of our non-profit practice. There are lots of annual programs to support the communities we live and work in, as well as global disasters and other causes.
flexible work styles - now don't be mislead, consulting is hard work and a damn lot of it, but the company realizes that and does a good job of working with people to keep things flexible. I work from home at least one day a week when traveling, more when not, usually.
ethics - given the nature of our work (with clients), this takes a heightened importance. I have annual ethics compliance training that I am always late in getting around to.

As far as your love of travel, consulting will break you of that in time :). Best wishes, MeMail me if you'd like to know more specifics.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:01 AM on November 30, 2008

Accenture is a great place to build careers, but just to give some insider counter-balance, do note that the huge travel component is true mostly in the US; your mileage might vary significantly in South East Asia.

Additionally, SE Asian work-culture is big on face-time; while it's possible to work remotely depending on the project, clients might prefer having you over on-site. So instead of the usual 543 lifestyle - that's five billable days, four _days_ out, three nights out, (you leave on Monday morning, spend Mon, Tue, Wed _nights_, Thu _day_, fly home on Thu night, and work Fri from home) you could be asked to spend 15 days at a stretch, and then return home for the weekend. It's all a toss if it's crunch-time; then you would accumulate all fly-backs. Add this to the fact that, you still have all that Type-A competition, and that, typically, you'll need to pick up stuff on the fly, many people find this more stressful than they first imagine it to be; even with the so-called Asian work-ethic, burn-outs are rife. I've known people who've become teachers and real-estate agents.

Basically, if you know what you want, are a people-person, and can easily be self-driven, then {strat | tech } consulting in Asia is the way to go. But if you find yourself wanting inspiration from surroundings or aren't excited by learning things fresh, then you might feel disappointed. Accenture and its subsidiaries, in particular, have a different culture in Asia, compared to the US; I've heard people comment that it feels like an entirely different firm out here.

Not specifically commenting on my dealings with Accenture one way or another; let's just say I'm... fairly intimate with it all. :-)
posted by the cydonian at 2:12 AM on December 1, 2008

No suggestions, but I wanted to comment on the UN mention -

I'm a student and I'm currently working on a consulting project for a branch of the UN (the Global Compact), and their offices are ugly, cramped, and mostly windowless, with terrible lighting. It's the sort of thing you really, really need to love if you are going to work there.

Plus, they've been terribly rude to us.

This may not be indicative of the entire organization, but I just wanted to throw in my two cents worth.
posted by firei at 12:59 PM on December 1, 2008

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