YOUNG PEOPLE WILL NOT WORK FOR COMPANIES THAT DON’T CARE ABOUT THEIR FUTURE
In a time where addressing the impact of climate change feels more urgent than ever, what role do personal values play in an individual’s participation in the workforce?
A friend of mine told me that there are certain companies she would refuse to work for, no matter how much money they offered her. She listed famous clothing brands and large investment banks — places that many people used to strive to work for.
When I asked her why, she gave me a simple answer: they don’t care about the environment.
Climate change is one of Gen Z’s largest political concerns. The notion of eco-anxiety is heavily impacting young people’s mental health with the increase of extreme weather events. Both Millennials and Gen Z are more engaged in climate activism than previous generations, and they’re more interested in sustainable consumption. The youth’s concern over the future of our planet is intrinsically attached to our economic future and it needs to be addressed as the younger generation enters the workforce.
In a 2021 survey conducted by Yale, 51 per cent of students in business programs across several schools would choose to make less money if it meant working for a company that was environmentally friendly. Young people are paying attention to companies’ environmental, social, and governance (ESG) commitments, and it’s a factor which may cause youths to reject job offers. Bloomberg has even reported on “climate quitters,” which are an increasing number of folks who are transitioning out of their current positions to work green jobs.
Young people simply won’t work for a company that contributes to a future where they’ll have to bear the brunt of climate disasters. They don’t want a future where their homes could be displaced due to floods and where their children will have to breathe toxic air.
Gen Z and millennials are putting their social and political values first when choosing where to work, and employers will have to accommodate these generational changes in employee attitudes if they want to retain staff. Companies that remain reactive in a warming planet that necessitates green solutions, will lose the favour of young people — a generation that will soon make up a large portion of the workforce.
It’s easy for large corporations to be passive in the face of climate change when they don’t see its immediate consequences. However, operating without a strategic vision for the future of our youth will be detrimental to succession planning and any long-term business strategy.
When Greta Thunberg made headlines for her climate activism, it became glaringly clear that youth were not going to stand by in the face of the climate crisis. A sense of urgency was implanted in all of us to enact change. Companies need to align with youth priorities and invest in eco-friendly practices not just for the workforce to move forward, but also for the future of our planet.