Ethical Careers and Recruitment

Sustainability and ethical considerations must be integrated into all elements of higher education institutions, and careers services are no exception.

A strong ethical careers policy ensures a university careers service’s involvement with third-party organisations is conducted transparently and in a socially-responsible manner, not in opposition to wider social, environmental and humanitarian concerns. It is essential that this information be public and easily accessible.

Over 20% of UK university careers services already exclude one or more industries from student and graduate recruitment opportunities on ethical or moral grounds, including several explicitly excluding fossil fuels, mining, arms and tobacco. Additionally, over 65% of UK universities have now committed to remove fossil fuel companies from their investment portfolios, with many making strong statements about climate action in the process.

Student engagement with the careers services should be simple and easy to navigate. Job titles, contact details and key responsibilities of careers service staff should be accessible and clear.

Universities will be assessed on all Careers and Recruitment criteria even if they do not currently have their own in-house careers service. People & Planet understand that it is possible for these universities to pass and review policy on careers and recruitment related issues even before an in-house careers service is present.

Ethical Careers Policy

1. Does the institution have an active and publicly available ethical careers policy?

Score 10%


  • The policy must be publicly available on the university website and not require an institutional login.

  • The policy should apply to the full scope of the careers service’s relationships with third-party employers at minimum, but may cover the entire institution.

  • The policy must clearly outline what criteria must be met in order for the careers service to work with a third-party employer, and what criteria would screen an organisation out.


  • People & Planet will look for the policy on the university website, particularly for careers service ‘Terms and Conditions’.

  • The policy does not need to be called an ‘Ethical Careers Policy’ to score points, though this will help our markers find it on the website.

  • By ‘third-party employers’ we mean any organisation outside the university, working with the university to recruit students or graduates to their organisation.

  • The policy does not need to exclude sectors or named companies to score points, but must lay out clear eligibility and screening criteria. Policies with no criteria will score 0%.

Universities without an in-house careers service will still be expected to display a policy governing any potential future in-house careers service. This policy may also cover third-party careers services, but this is not essential to score.

1b) Specifics within the policy

Score 7%

Additional scores will be added for each of the following areas included in the policy:

  • There should be evidence within the policy itself that it was last updated/reviewed within the last 4 years. 4%

There should be evidence within the policy itself that it has been signed off at a senior level. 3%


Commitment to Screen Out Specific Sectors

Commitment to screen out specific sectors from third party recruitment opportunities over which the careers service can be reasonably assumed to have control:

2a Fossil fuel companies

Score 50%

  • Fossil fuel companies: partial commitment (i.e. coal and tar-sands). 20%


  • Fossil fuel companies: full commitment to screen out all fossil fuel companies. 50%

2b Mining companies

Score 10%

2c Arms companies

Score 10%

  • Arms companies partial commitment (i.e. controversial weapons or sales to regimes). 5%


  • Arms companies: full commitment to screen out all arm companies. 10%

2d Tobacco companies

Score 5%

  • Tobacco companies and those that produce tobacco-based products. 5%


  • Screening commitments only relate to relationships between the university careers service and third-party employers outside the university.

  • Screening commitments in no way impact the impartiality of factual, evidence-based one-to-one careers guidance provided to students.

Transparency and Accountability

3a. Is information about the careers service structure and staff accessible and clear?

Score 6%


• Job title

• Full name

• Email address


• A page stating that the institution does not have an in-house careers service at present.

3b. Specific elements detailed within the careers service structure and staff information page:

Score 2%

  • Any combined careers services the university is part of AND how to contact that combined careers service. 2%


  • A statement confirming that the university is not part of any combined careers services. 2%


• All careers service staff must be listed on one page. Careers staff being included in the staff directory is insufficient and will score 0%.

• All careers service staff must have the details listed for each criterion of 3a to score points. 0% will be scored on a given criterion if only some staff members have them.

• Careers service staff listings that do not include all the ‘essential’ criteria for question 3a will also score 0% on 3b criteria.

• By ‘combined careers service’ we mean any careers service that the university is part of but does not have sole control over. For example The Careers Group, University of London.

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