As you might have heard, we were recently delighted to be named as one of Escape the City’s Top 100 Companies to Escape to for our work coordinating the UN Environment’s Green Fins initiative globally - but what is the Escape 100 and what does it take to make the cut? To get some insight, we spoke to James Macdonald, Special Projects Coordinator, and Jim Robers, Employer Happiness Officer , at Escape the City; both of whom were involved in the selection process.

Where did the idea for the Escape 100 come from?

Jim, James and the Escape the City team on a company away day

Jim, James and the Escape the City team on a company away day

Jim: Every week we have hundreds of new people join the Escape community, and they’re all bound by a desire to find work that’s both inspiring to them and good for the world. Speaking to members of our community, we discovered people were regularly curious to find out what we considered to be ‘the best of the best’ among the companies we work with. This led to many long debates about what constitutes a ‘great company’!

Finally, we settled on six criteria for assessing how ‘good’ a company is: Mission, Impact, Workplace Culture, Innovation, Planet and B-Corp Status (you can find out more details about those here).

Once we had the criteria in place it made sense to get measuring, so we had our community nominate their favourite organisations and set about measuring companies. This process also included asking company employees to review where they worked, leading to 4,000 unique pieces of employee feedback!

There were a huge number of applicants from incredible organisations - how difficult was it to create the shortlist and how long did it take?

James: You’re absolutely right! When we started the campaign, we never expected it to escalate to such an extent. We certainly had no idea that over 13,000 companies would be nominated by our community, with more than 2,000 taking part. As a result, it took us far longer than we’d initially anticipated to score all the companies against our criteria.

We had multiple meetings where we dismantled and reassembled company scores to ensure that our scoring mechanism stood up to scrutiny! There were companies that were disappointed to see they didn’t quite make the 100, but ultimately the cream rose to the top and we couldn’t be happier with the shortlist.

The whole process - including tech development, company verification, due diligence checks, scoring, marketing, and other logistical considerations - took us the best part of nine months.

 What stood out about Reef-World and our work?

Jim: We had been aware of Reef-World for a while; having hosted some fantastic opportunities for the charity on Escape previously, so we were delighted (though not surprised!) that you ended up achieving one of our Top 100 scores! Reef-World achieved the highest possible score in two of our categories: Planet and Innovation.

Looking at what Reef-World does for the environment, there was no other score the charity could possibly have achieved in this category. Coral reef degradation is one of the biggest threats to marine ecosystems in the world and you have taken the mantle up to stop the rot (literally).

On innovation, we saw that Reef-World was operating in such a unique way. We’ve never seen a company pairing incredible scuba diving experiences with such important sustainability education and oceanographic monitoring. Truly inspiring!

Did you learn any lessons or get any ideas from the nominees that you're planning to implement for Escape?

James: As a certified B Corp we have already been working hard to adapt how Escape functions. There seems to be a wave of movement towards this - putting purpose before profit - which we feel is very exciting.

The Escape team on an away day

The Escape team on an away day

The criteria that really stood out to us in the analysis was the Planet score. We know we can do more, at work and in our daily lives. Seeing how companies like ClimateCare, SunFunder and Reef-World operate has given us massive inspiration. We’re keen to work with these kinds of organisations as Escape develops in the coming years. We hope this will have a ripple effect which will hugely benefit the planet.

We also saw some quite cool and original benefits, such as additional days off for volunteering, free breakfasts and lunches, fulfilment checkpoints, and even duvet days (though we’re not sure this would work in the warmth of the Philippines!). Although we haven’t brought these in yet, it certainly did make us think! The world of work and what employees want is changing fast and every organisation has to keep up.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to escape the city and find a meaningful organisation to join?

Jim: Don’t ‘find’ happiness - make it happen! We’re constantly told that happiness is something that we’ll discover at some point, as if you’ll trip up and fall into it. Thinking in this way can inadvertently stop people from growing because they assume ‘something will come up’ at some point. Perhaps a company you really like isn’t hiring at the moment. If that’s the case, look for other organisations in the same area. Maybe you don’t quite have the experience to land your dream job yet. You can always get involved in some voluntary work or undertaking extra qualifications to build your skills up. There is always something you can do, but often that requires being proactive, not reactive.

Anything to add?

James: Check out our job board if you want to browse some opportunities that work for you and the planet ;)

Team Escape the City :)

Team Escape the City :)

From everyone here at Reef-World, thank you to Jim, James and the rest of the Escape team for recognising our efforts to protect coral reefs for future generations!

Escape The City Top 100 winner