Circularity Careers are the Future
Circularity and regenerative economics are at the center of new economic thinking. Regenerative economics says that humanity and its labor are merely one part of an interconnected web of life. Further, this web should not distinguish between us and it, the self and the other. As the impact of these ideas grows, next-gen leaders are looking for ways to identify companies and circularity careers that are committed to the regenerative economy.
Why now is a unique time to make systems more circular
The world of work has been entirely changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the middle of such disruptive change, the shifts needed to create circularity are already part of the larger ongoing process of pandemic-induced societal change. Businesses have been forced to take a step back and rethink and retool how they work. Many have faced uncertainty due to financial hardship, sparse human resources, unavailable materials and more. This is a prime time to make systems more circular as businesses realize that they are not invincible, but are influenced by and connected to a larger system. The following are three steps you can take to build your career in circularity and regeneration.
1. Identify companies committed to circularity and to your values
To identify potential employers that are committed to circularity, look for companies that see human labor as a resource. By viewing labor this way, they can honor the contributions of all workers, using individualized creativity and adaptability.
Begin your circularity careers search by looking for companies that are replacing the current take-make-waste system of production and resource use. Take-make-waste is notoriously dependent on taking new resources out of the planet to make new products that are eventually wasted as trash rather than recycled.
These are some ways you can work against the take-make-waste system from the inside:
• Build your skills.For employers to use employee skills in a circular system, an ongoing process to "skill and reskill" the workforce is key. This means education and training should become part of your lifelong self-training process. Your goal should be to seek circularity careers that allow the ongoing evolution of worker skills to replace career track training. Sharing and updating knowledge in rapidly evolving workplaces will be critical to employability.
• Look for people-oriented jobs. Companies committed to circularity will recognize all of their workers as valuable and ingenious human capital that must be treated with respect.
• Seek out inclusive companies.Inclusivity means more than just accepting those who are different. In a truly circular company, opportunities are made available to everyone. Even those whose occupations are endangered are given meaningful and rewarding work. Companies should pay special attention to those whose labor is most affected by technological changes. By doing so, they ensure that these employees continue to have skills to offer to the regenerative marketplace. When you interview for a position, ask the interviewer targeted questions that can help you pinpoint the company's level of inclusiveness.
2. Consider different circularity careers
Already, certain occupations are driving the economy in a circular and regenerative direction. Among these newly influential occupations are:
• Product and packaging design. Re-engineering packaging to protect the environment is key in the regenerative economy. All of the "stuff" that makes up the current take-make-waste economy must be redesigned by those involved in product design and manufacturing.
• Circular investing. Circularity has become a new focus of investing, with mutual fund giant BlackRock having recently offered a fund focusing on companies in the regenerative vanguard. Specializing in circular economy investing requires understanding the characteristics of companies likely to be successful in the new economic model.
• Customer service. New and innovative transactions feature leasing rather than purchasing and buying used rather than new. Major retailers and small businesses are offering clothing rentals. The regenerative economy requires rethinking our relationship to things and our "ownership" of them.
• Reverse logistics management. About one-fifth of goods ordered online are returned. Systems for handling those returns with as little waste and impact on the environment as possible offer a rapidly growing regenerative career opportunity. Reverse logistics also matters internally as corporations learn to recycle, repurpose and reuse.
• Product lifecycle manager. People pursuing this opportunity are expected to examine product handling across the board. How can products that have been returned or rented be returned to the stream of the company's commerce? How are gaps in supply chains or bottlenecks in a product lifecycle recognized and resolved?
Ultimately, of course, circularity careers seek to make these attitudes universal. When the entire mainstream economy thinks as one about the need to deal with products and labor as renewable but precious resources, the movement will have succeeded.
3. Keep learning about circularity
Consider adding to your circularity value by learning more about it. Opportunities to understand circularity are becoming ever more available to you. For example, the Ellen Macarthur Foundation now offers online courses and learning pathways on this topic. These are designed to lead you to a profound and deeper understanding of circularity. They will also help you understand the potential transformation of our world. Classes may cover broad overviews of the impact of circularity on the world economy. Others look at micro issues like the impact of plastics or the need to build a bio-based world. Completing any of these, you will be sure to gain knowledge to add value and understanding to your circularity efforts.
You don't have to be an expert already. You can become one starting from the most basic levels. More traditional courses introducing the underlying concepts of circularity are also available. You can learn as much as you like. Try taking a wide variety of courses. You can prepare yourself to participate in and help build the circular economy of the future.
Finding the right career for you
Whether you've already found circularity careers that interest you yet or not, you can continue to learn more about the new economy. In addition to the advice above, Net Impact has a range of resources to help you determine what career path is best for you, job search tools and resources, as well as a dedicated Job Board for the latest opportunities in the sustainability and social impact sectors.