Insight Blog

Environmental Stance Counts in Hiring + Retention

by Sami Barry

In previous blog posts, we have discussed the many benefits companies can experience as a result of “going green” and making sustainability a priority in their business. But, have you considered that one key reason to take action in this area may be to attract and retain quality talent? Studies show that today's job seekers consider a company’s stance on environmental issues when evaluating a job opportunity, and they are increasingly attracted to companies that place importance on their sustainable impact.

Currently, Millennials (born between the 1980s and the early 1990s) comprise 36% of the workforce, and that number will jump to 50% by 2020. As both consumers and employees, these young professionals are urging companies toward social responsibility. Just as Millennials are willing to pay more for green products and reject those without environmental benefits, many are similarly discriminating about the companies where they work.

In June of this year, TD Bank released findings of its Environmental Attitudes Survey, which polled consumers of all ages about their environmental behaviors, preferences, and expectations. According to the survey, when seeking employment, 36% of respondents evaluate a company's environmental position, and nearly one-quarter of respondents would refuse a job if they disagreed with the organization's sustainable impact. Millennials were the most likely of all age groups to consider a company’s environmental stance. Other interesting findings of the survey are:

  • 28% of Millennials say they would refuse a job based on environmental practices.

  • 80% of those surveyed say they would contribute financially to improve their own environmental impact at the workplace.

  • 46% of respondents believe it is important for the companies they do business with to operate from environmentally sustainable buildings.

Also, a survey by Deloitte showed that Millennials believe businesses (as well as government) have an important role to play in climate change and sustainability, and that most are not doing all they can to make a difference. In fact, many think that the environment should be the business world’s number one focus, above all other issues.

Now that the Millennials have spoken, here are a few key considerations for employers who would like to make their businesses more attractive to young professionals:

  • Operating environmentally friendly facilities. Several studies have shown the numerous benefits of green building, such as cost reduction and enhanced marketability to investors. As a bonus, green design features have been shown to improve worker productivity as well as occupant health and well-being.

  • Practicing “Green Purchasing.” Another opportunity to demonstrate environmental commitment to potential employees are the products a company chooses for its office. This can mean buying from companies who share its stance on sustainability as well as purchasing green goods.

  • Sharing the results. To reap the internal benefits of green initiatives (i.e., attracting potential employees and engaging current ones), companies need to be able to analyze and share the results of these activities with their team. Coca-Cola’s Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Report is a great example of how to announce a company’s efforts in this area.

In a competitive job market, companies should remain aware of what the next generation of business leaders consider crucial when contemplating career opportunities. "Implementing a strong and innovative environmental program is not only the right thing to do,” says Diana Glassman, Head of Environmental Affairs at TD Bank, “it is an effective way to attract, inspire, and retain the best and brightest employees."

Sources: TD Bank Environmental Attitudes Survey, Coca-Cola’s 2013/2014 Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Report.