As we celebrate Earth Day this weekend, it’s interesting to note how much has changed since its inception 47 years ago, and how environmentally conscious the world has become. This includes business, which, in the face of accelerating climate change, is implementing environmental sustainability measures more rapidly now than ever.
There are various reasons for this, from public image to the financial impact of doing nothing, but regardless of the motives for going green or greener, companies demonstrating a true commitment to the environment can reap numerous benefits.
One of these, not surprisingly, is a greater ability to recruit and retain top talent.
As numerous surveys have shown, a company’s practices around environmental sustainability not only impacts its brand among consumers, but current and future employees.
According to a 2012 SHRM survey, for example, organizations that show a commitment to the environment can attract more applicants. In fact, notes SHRM, this can be even “more compelling to applicants than pay or layoff potential.” This is especially true of Millennials, who are projected to make up about 75 percent of the global workforce within the next decade.
A later survey conducted by MSLGROUP and Research Now indicates much of the same. This survey, which polled 8,000 Millennials in 17 countries, showed that most want businesses to help make the world a better place, particularly when it comes to the environment.
A 2016 survey by Cone Communications further notes that employees want to be personally involved in environmental initiatives. More than 70 percent of respondents wanted a company to provide opportunities for this, and nearly 80 percent wanted “hands-on” activities.
Beyond the obvious desire for a cleaner planet, there are other reasons job seekers and employees value corporate environmental commitments.
According to GreenBiz these include their pride in being affiliated with an environmentally conscious organization and their perceived cultural alignment with it. They also feel that any company that genuinely cares about the environment will also care about them.
The operative word here, though, is genuine. Companies that engage in greenwashing to gain a competitive advantage may find that it backfires and accomplishes just the opposite. Instead, according to ceo.com, management should avoid talking the talk when it comes to environmental practices and embrace authenticity: “Figure out how best to tell your story, show employees and customers why the initiative is important, and lead the way forward.”