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Looking For Meaningful Work? How About The Impact Industry?

A report by The Open University indicated that the changes in the career map have been accelerated due to the current global pandemic. Globally, a likelihood of 24 million new jobs will be created following the shift to a greener economy by 2030[1] and exponentially 200 million full-time jobs estimated in response to the climate emergency[2]

While money may be the sole or main motivator to the previous generation of the workforce, we are looking at a generation of workers that are in search of meaning to their careers.  

Based on an article by Harvard Business Review in 2011, “meaning is the new money”[3] when settling for a job.  This sentiment rings true as at least 9 out of 10 American employees cited that they are willing to earn less for more meaningful work[4] and at least 89% of Malaysian youth are prepared to emigrate in search of a meaningful career[5]

Source: Leaderonomics

Ashley Stahl, a contributor to Forbes wrote an article regarding the workplace motivations of Gen Zs and how they bring a fresh perspective to the traditional corporate ladder. Research and data show that Gen Zs are hard workers, but they are also an enlightened workforce looking for a purpose in their work. 

It isn’t just money that Gen Z workers seem to value; indeed they also have high expectations for proactive communication, strong connections and transparency in their place of work. – Ashley Stahl, Forbes[6] 

The Millennials and Gen Zs both globally and locally,  are in search of something more than wads of cash. With more of us searching for meaning in our jobs, it is no wonder that the impact industry is flourishing within the crevices.

Before thinking of making the switch, a simple step of understanding your own personal aspirations along with following impact leaders and organisations which appeal to your own passion on social media platforms would be a great start. Entering into impact jobs isn’t necessarily a linear route and there are many possible ways of getting involved at your own capacity in different sectors, as follows: 

#1: Join A Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs)

Source: Jireh’s Hope

The conventional route is to be a part of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) at your own comfort level; be it as a volunteer, intern or paid worker. NGOs can vary a great deal in terms of structure, size and source of funding. The first step to start is to find a cause that you feel passionate about and create a list of potential NGOs locally or globally. Reach out to people in your network with experience in the non-profit sector in order to get authentic feedback, insight and guidance. Examine your skill, expertise and experience and find ways to add value to the existing good work.  

#2: Create Change From Within The Private Sector

Source: Unsplash

Over the years, there has been an uptake from corporations in Malaysia to shift their practices in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as set out by the United Nations. Conversations on sustainability are gaining prominence in boardrooms.

Currently,  Malaysia is ranked second in the Asia Pacific region with a recorded 99% of top 100 companies producing sustainability reports[7]. As of now, the CSR team is often part of the human resources and management department. This may change, as with the increasing emphasis on reaching Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) scores and to ensure sustainability is at the forefront, jobs that include CSR professionals at various levels are expected to increase. In the United States, CSR professionals are being sought after to aid companies and corporations alike to fortify their social impact programmes[8]. Pioneering a consultation firm providing inputs on ways companies could improve their sustainability effort and consequently their GRI scores could be another possibility to amplifying positive impact. 

Larger corporations who have the resources and bandwidth have their very own foundations such as Yayasan Petronas, CIMB Foundation, OSK Foundation, A Better Malaysia Foundation and The Star Foundation are just to name a few. Corporate foundations are set up to drive change at an accelerated rate with a unique purpose of marrying various industries to the world of impact[9].

#3: Join Hands With Social Enterprises  

Social enterprises are purpose and impact-driven organisations that do business with social or environmental impact as one of their core goals. A social enterprise can deliver either products or services and it is for-profit. However, portions of the profits from social enterprises are channelled towards their impact initiatives. 

In Malaysia, some examples of social enterprises include Biji- Biji Initiative,  Masala Wheels, PichaEats and Komuniti Tukang Jahit[7]. They thrive in resolving social issues such as living more sustainably and aiding underprivileged groups in the community. 

When our community learns that social enterprises have the power to make a change for our own people, it drives traction to support businesses like ours. – Aida Zunaidi, cofounder of the mom-centric online marketplace, Ibupreneur[7]

#4: Start Your Own Impact-driven Organisation 

Source: Jireh’s Hope

If the 9-to-5 job just doesn’t cut it and you have observed that there is a gap in the market that requires a filling, be it through eco-friendly products or to support local communities – a potential path is to establish your very own social enterprise. The rise in social entrepreneurship would also tackle the issues of increasing unemployment, a social issue that has afflicted the country and has worsened due to the pandemic[10]

At least  64%  of social enterprises are centered in Klang Valley, thus, it is important for social enterprises to be mobile and to cater to communities outside of Klang Valley.  Thanks to the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), a governmental agency founded to support entrepreneurs; it is more accessible for aspiring social entrepreneurs to establish and to seek backing at tough times. Recently, the stimulus package Penjana put forth by the government implicitly acknowledged the crucial role of social enterprises[11].  On the flip side, a small business that offers sustainable products such as handmade soaps[12] which supports a non-governmental organisation could be a starting point. 

Social entrepreneurship is a growing sector that has the potential to contribute to the socio-economy of the nation. Social entrepreneurship development is the instrument of community empowerment. – Dzuleira Abu Bakar,  former Chief Executive Officer of MaGIC

Explore Our Sources:

  1. Open University (2021). Finding the Future: What will be the top 10 most in-demand jobs over the next five years? Link 
  2. Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Green Jobs,Link
  3. T. Erickson. (2011). Meaning Is the New Money. Harvard Business Review. Link
  4. S.Achor, A. Reece, G.R.Kellerman and A.Robichaux. (2018). 9 Out of 10 People Are Willing to Earn Less Money to Do More-Meaningful Work. Harvard Business Review. Link
  5. Randstad. (2019). 90% of Malaysians would emigrate to improve career and work-life balance. 
  6.  A.Stahl. (2021). How Gen-Z Is Bringing A Fresh Perspective To The World Of Work. Forbes. Link
  7. D, de Gruijter. (2019). 10 Malaysian NGOs & Social Enterprises to Watch Out For in 2019. Medium. Link
  8. Benevity (2021). How do I start a career in Corporate Social Responsibility? 
  9. KPMG.(2020). Malaysia among global leaders in sustainability reporting, finds KPMG survey. Link
  10.  A. Arfa. (2021). How Has MCO Affected the Malaysian Economy? Taylor’s University Link
  11. J.Loh. (2020). Social Enterprises in Malaysia- an emerging employment provider. Focus Malaysia. Link
  12. J. Tan. (2021). Outside of surgery, these Malaysian doctors run a business that makes soaps for charity. Vulcan Post. Link

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