There has been recent discussion within CIEEM and elsewhere on exploiting freelancers and early career ecologists.
This blog post by Marcus Kohler MCIEEM will be of interest to readers, along with two articles in the latest edition of In Practice magazine, that we have made freely available (click on the headings below to read them).
One article is a follow up by Marcus on his blog post. He notes that CIEEM has been actively involved in the promotion of welfare for its members and has recently updated the Good Working Practices guidance (available in the members’ area of the CIEEM website). There is, though, an elephant in the room, and it is one that has concerned many in the industry and still seems to be prevalent in a small but significant section of employees. There are consultancies both small and large that are exploiting early career ecologists on both summer contracts and first jobs by prolonged exposure to antisocial and challenging hours, placing profit and function way above well-being, safety, personal development and true sustainability.
The other article is by Tilly Tillbrook CEcol MCIEEM, and aims to start a conversation about creating an ethical industry where the onus on acting responsibly towards freelance staff is placed where it should be: on the employer. Increasingly in the UK, new ecologists are having to work as freelancers to break into the industry. Rather than a conscious career choice, freelancing is seen as a means to an end, to gain enough experience to perhaps one day be offered that elusive permanent contract. However, the lack of any consistent standards for payment means that exploitative situations are rife in the industry. A Code of Practice for the Employment of Freelance Staff is needed, aimed at employers to make it clear what an ethical business looks like, and which shows freelance workers what they should expect from an ethical employer.
Are you a CIEEM member and interested in being involved in further discussion around addressing exploitation of junior/freelance ecologists and environmental managers in the industry? Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.