One of the most challenging parts of building a lean and mean green company is finding the right balance of experience and passion. Especially in a young upstart company – like TerraCycle – where the status quo is often thrown out the window in favor of shaking up the typical “business as usual” model. But is it better (or even appropriate) to hire people who are committed to being green outside of work as well?
Many people may think that personal devotion to a company’s ideal – or green ideals in general – would make a better employee for a green business, and should weigh heavily on whether someone can work in a “green” company. But when push comes to shove, isn’t it more important to have people who know how to accomplish something – even if they don’t recycle at home, or bike to work, or buy offsets for their air-travel-related carbon emissions?
Which is better? A team full of uber-recyclers, people who live the company message in every walk of life – or a team of equally skilled but non-zealous people?
As CEO of a green company I have heard many opinions and through many hiring failures and successes, have formed my own opinions on this age-old question. When it comes to the business/operations side of the company then it is best to hire the most experienced, educated person for the job.
For example your legal department and finance department are better staffed by experienced employees, even if they are not activist. After all to accomplish the lofty and important goals of your business you’ll need to have your legal and financial matters well handled, or else all the good intentions in the world will be wasted.
As for marketing, product design, PR, sales I believe that having environmentally or socially aware employees is an advantage. These departments are the public face of your company and it is best to have people who ‘walk their talk’ out in the public sphere. Plus their passion for your companies ideals will be infectious to prospective clients or customers.
So what do you think 3p community? Should green companies only hire green employees?
Tom Szaky is CEO of TerraCycle, named by Inc. Magazine as the “Coolest Startup in America — The ultimate growth company, built on garbage, run by a kid, loved by investors.” Tom writes about his experiences as a social entrepreneur and visions for business and technology that leave the world better off on 3p.