“Employers failing to improve on their sustainability credentials should expect to see a knock-on impact to their hiring,” said Chris Poole, managing director of Robert Walters U.K, a global recruitment firm. 

The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference brought together world leaders with a common urgent goal - Planet's Well-being. Nevertheless, it's not just nations that need to improve their sustainable credentials: so do companies, or they will lose in the talent competition.

Employees Want to Work for Sustainable Companies

The post-2020 period of the so-called Great Resignation has made it clear that workers have more choices than ever. Research shows that the demand for workers is the highest in decades. 

The tendency to work for sustainable companies is here: one out of every four employees considers looking for a job that is more meaningful than their present one, with Millennials being three times more likely to say that they were reviewing their options. Employees are becoming more conscious of the environmental and societal consequences of their actions. As a result, they are turning to more value-driven companies. It's a new era of recruiting. 

Robert Walters’ study indicates that 37% of Portugal employees would decline a job opportunity if a firm's environmental, sustainability, or climate control values do not align with their own. The figure is even higher in France and Chile with both 53%. 

According to Chris Poole, although the usual questions about salary, benefits, and career paths are still addressed, there is an increasing tendency for questions such as - "What does X company stand for?".

Sustainability credentials: a must-do 

Steve Carter, a Non-Executive Director at Futureheads, a digital recruitment agency, states that, nowadays, the ESG credentials are as imperative for consumers, who increasingly expect brands to be sustainable, as for employees. A survey by Futureheads illustrated that same line of thought: ESG credentials were rated even more highly by workers in the tech industry than available childcare support, social events, or office facilities - highlighting the fact that priorities are shifting. 

Young Generation and their Sustainability know-how

Other sources of data that back up this tendency - job searchers drawn to firms that adopt sustainable practices - come from University Students. The transformation of higher education for Global Sustainability tendency is already having an impact on the job market.

Joachim Schleich, professor at France’s Grenoble École de Management, notes that, nowadays, business school students have different perspectives and beliefs than prior generations - “They are increasingly interested in classes that cover sustainability issues or carbon management", he says. Accordingly, this young attraction to sustainability is a source of competitive advantage in the search for talent for companies scoring well in this area.  

Sustainability is a Competitive Advantage, but Transparency is key

The Future of Work survey, conducted by FTI Consulting on behalf of HSBC, revealed a growing understanding that sustainability credentials may be a significant hiring advantage, especially in competitive industries like tech. The survey illustrated that seven out of ten company executives stated their firms will conduct a hiring drive, with 27% of respondents citing sustainability credentials as crucial for attracting or retaining talent.

Therefore, we can state that employers are starting to understand the attractiveness of having a sustainable-driven company. To complement the tendency highlighted, according to the 2020 Deloitte report, the companies that improve their sustainability credentials have 40% higher employee retention. 

While a commitment to improving sustainability is attractive to employees and translates into a competitive hiring advantage for employers, the opposite is true if businesses overstate and gloss over their sustainable business efforts for business gain. According to Gordon Wilson, CEO of Advanced, a U.K. software company, young employees are particularly attuned to this. His business’ recent trends report found that 56% of Generation Z is accusing their employer of Greenwashing.

The younger generations want more than just a job, they want meaning  

Companies cannot ignore the voice of this generation of future leaders, which has a greater acknowledgment of the impact they intend to have on the world than previous generations. 

To corroborate this statement, the Anthesis research about the sentiments of different age groups towards choosing a company based on its sustainability credentials revealed Generation Z is ranked the highest (67%), followed closely by Millennials at 64%. 

To conclude with the words of Nathan Callaghan, Managing Director of Futureheads: “It's never been more important for businesses to develop a strong employer brand to attract and retain the very best talent." 

Have a great and impactful week!

Marta Sanches
Center for Responsible Business & Leadership

This article refers to edition #142 of the "Have a Great and Impactful Week" Newsletter and covers SDGs 8 and 13. 
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