Ethicjobs, a company from Italy’s region of Emilia-Romagnia, is a great example of how to make an impact on a long-established sector – the business management sector and achieve the goal of more employee-friendly and more ethical companies.
We sat down and talked with one of its co-founders, Mr. Ricarrdo Sonnino, who is currently responsible for research & development at the company.

How did you come up with the idea for this Project and what are you trying to achieve?

Me and the other co-founder, we knew each other as friends in Italy. I saw that in my family, my parents were sometimes quite unhappy with their jobs. So, the basic idea is that we are trying to make other workers more happy, even if it’s not their dream job. The goal is to make a systemic change for good.

What things have you already achieved?

Though the idea itself is 3 years old; the company was founded in January 2017. We have worked in a business incubator and in another business accelerator. Currently we have 6 employees, four of them full-time. We had 8 companies evaluated, resulting in around 700 employees who benefited directly. To this day, more than 2800 people have done our questionnaire, including students and other people from related fields.

How did you come up with the questions for the employees and can you tell more about them?

The questions themselves come from 5 different areas relating to job satisfaction and similar issues. When designing the questions we also looked at the EU guidelines for ethical workplaces. For istance, some questions ask, what kind of benefits are offered by the company? Do the workers feel respected? Do they feel they have an impact? Although, it’s important to note that we use a bottom-up approach. The management is not involved much in the personalization of the questionnaire, they only provide us with the official structure of the company. Another important distinction is that managers fill in the questionnaire as well. Only the shareholders don’t. So, the workers fill the questionnaire, the company gets evaluated and then it gets the certificate.

How much does it cost and what happens afterwards?

The basic certificate price goes with the size of the company. Typically it’s 1000 EUR + 50 EUR per employee. Also, we want to guarantee the anonymity, so the employer only sees the final result, they don’t see the specific results of the answers of specific employees. Also it’s important to note that the companies only get the certificate if they achieve a high enough score. The score changes so that companies have to be better than average to get the ethical company certificate. If the result is negative we don’t say it out loud in the market, of course, but we still provide some feedback so that they can improve. The companies also have the option to renew the certificates every year. The renewal is done with another type of questionnaire, where more impact and changes compared to previous years can be seen.

In the website we see that your company provides some other services besides the questionnaires consultants – therapists, motivators, team builders, consultants. We understand these people help these companies – but in what way?

These people are a secondary business for us. If the companies decide they need external help or help from us we have a team of dedicated professionals to send them. Sometimes they have specific people that they need and we can really help the companies improve.

What are you doing to make your project more widely known and used in Italy? Are you planning to move the project to other countries?

For a startup with social impact it’s important to move more into the primary market first, because of certain customs and other advantages in the primary market. We plan to be active on country level by 2020. We have translated the questionnaire to French, German and English, but don’t have in mind any specific country to expand to yet.

Was he afraid of failure?

Not anymore, for sure. He was more afraid in the beginning, because he finished university and was so fascinated by the idea of doing something by himself and making an impact. He really saw how his parents were unhappy with their jobs, so that gave him a real drive to work and show other people why it is so important to feel respected and motivated in a job. One other aspect that has crystalized from the questionnaires is that for example people working in the municipalities often have a feeling of lack of impact they can make, which results a lot of times in people being less motivated as workers. Nevertheless, Ricarrdo is optimistic about the future of his project – when your idea works, more people will come out to do the same thing. When his mission will be achieved? When it will be possible for people to come back home from work not stressed, but having a real motivation and job satisfaction.