Tomorrow’s Corporate Leaders Are All-In on ESG
Lessons from Deloitte’s “Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey”
Bloomberg Opinion recently published a well-considered piece by author and activist Tanja Hester (Wallet Activism) with the sensationalized headline ”Millennials and Gen Z Are Fed Up with ESG.”
It’s understandable, but nevertheless disappointing, that, given the windy labels used in the social impact space, the editorial board would conflate environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), as an investment philosophy, with ESG, the daily practice that drives so many of our companies, and which is making such a profound difference in the world. (Hester goes on to make lucid and astute predictions about the future of ESG investing, ahead of the pending approval of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s long-awaited guidelines.)
What’s more, Deloitte’s “Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey” strongly suggests that the opposite is true of younger generations. “Gen Zs and millennials are deeply worried about the state of the world and are fighting to reconcile their desire for change with the demands and constraints of everyday life,” Deloitte reports.
Gen Zs and millennials are “struggling with financial anxiety, while trying to invest in environmentally sustainable choices.” The report goes on:
They feel burned out, but many are taking on second jobs, while pushing for more purposeful—and more flexible—work. They press their employers to tackle climate change, particularly when it comes to efforts they can get directly involved in, but businesses may still be missing opportunities to drive deeper and broader climate action. They have inspired organizations to take action to address workplace mental health, but they are not always comfortable talking about these issues or taking advantage of the resources available.
As employees’ perceptions of what should count as ESG continue to broaden, and as their expectations for effective corporate social responsibility climb in kind, we should take care to be specific when talking about social impact. Responsible companies know the importance of empowering their employees to make smart, meaningful decisions on everything from health and well-being to the causes they care about most. From adidas to Airbnb, they deserve all due credit.
Gen Z and millennials are increasingly filling management and leadership positions in every industry, and they’re bringing with them this fresh set of priorities. The new direction is clear: the nature of work itself is changing to become more closely aligned with purpose.
Deloitte: 46 percent of Gen Zs and millennials who now hold senior positions have rejected job offers and/or assignments based on their ethics.
This remarkable statistic strongly suggests that the youngest segments of our global labor force care so deeply about ESG that they are willing to give up potentially lucrative, management-level roles with companies that fail to act. Companies must now embrace the reality that ESG is here to stay—and work to demonstrate their own efforts with integrity.
THREE TIPS FOR HOW TO DEMONSTRATE YOUR COMPANY’S COMMITMENT TO ESG
IMPROVE ESG REPORTING
Too often, the data and reporting functionality of social impact platforms either overwhelms or underwhelms corporate social responsibility (CSR) admins.
Gen Z and millennials are looking for sleek dashboards with meaningful data insights they can actually use to show their colleagues, consumers, and investors that our companies are making a tangible impact.
Democratizing ESG decision-making means making sure even those with zero data or reporting expertise can easily understand our impact. Deed’s celebrated Advanced Dashboards were built so that every stakeholder can participate in the conversation.
Our partners’ admins can view giving, volunteering, and engagement statistics at a glance, see a full picture of their organization's progress toward their ESG goals, then bring their own ambitious insights and visions to their team.
At a time when 70 percent of employees say their sense of purpose is defined by their work, we must continue to strive to give our people the tools they need to thrive.
DIVERSIFY YOUR GIVING, VOLUNTEERING, AND ENGAGEMENT OFFERINGS
Whether you’re a Fortune 500 or a fast-growing tech company, to ensure the long-term stability and success of your business, it’s crucial that you give the next generation of corporate leaders a seat at the table.
In fact, 63 percent of workers now say they’re looking for their employers “to provide more opportunities for purpose in their day-to-day work.”
One way to democratize decision-making around ESG is to design your impact program to have both “evergreen” programming—aligned closely with your mission and/or top-line commitments—and “reactive” programming, which empowers your employees to act quickly on the issues of the day.
For example, a multinational retailer might devote the majority of its time and effort to making sure that its global supply chain management strategy is as environmentally conscious as possible. However, that doesn’t mean the same retailer wouldn’t also use its broad distribution network to expand access to food, products, and vaccines during a public health crisis—like Walmart has done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’re seeing more companies speak to both tracks by offering 2:1 donation matching—or “doubling down”—on their core cause areas, and 1:1 matching for all others. This ensures that everyone’s voice is heard, and the company’s mission is well served.
BOLSTER SOCIAL IMPACT STORYTELLING
According to the Deloitte survey, Gen Zs and millennials “who are satisfied with their employers’ societal and environmental impact, and their efforts to create a diverse and inclusive culture, are more likely to want to stay with their employer for more than five years.”
Whether we’re talking to our own employees, investors, or the broader community, the question of how to improve storytelling around social impact is top-of-mind in the social impact space right now. In our hiring practices as much as our public relations, we face an important and delicate challenge: to share with every segment of the market our ambitious vision for how the world is a better place with our companies in it.
We know this challenge all too well. That’s why Deed recently launched our all-new ”Social Impact Storytelling” series, which includes insights from years helping Fortune 500s strengthen their narratives and scale their impact. We’ve been thrilled by the personal record-breaking response to the series from both the youngest and the most experienced members of the impact community.
The first installment covers the core characteristics of a winning social impact report—which is likely the first thing potential employees will look at when sizing up your company’s commitment to ESG.
Along with its vast insight into the professional, financial, and emotional lives of our youngest generations, Deloitte’s “Global 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey” also brings a timely and important reminder that companies are better positioned for long-term stability and success when they make authentic commitments to ESG.
Tomorrow’s brightest corporate leaders are crystal clear on the fact that they are prepared to walk away from companies that do not act responsibly.
It isn’t just the next generation’s corporate leaders, by the way—IBM reports that 80 percent of today’s CEOs expect ESG investments to improve their business results within five years.
To demonstrate your impact in an authentic way through advanced reporting, diverse programming, and pitch-perfect storytelling, you’ll need a community of changemakers to support you.
Whether you’re interested in transitioning from a legacy platform that hasn’t changed with the times or just getting your impact program off the ground, Deed is your partner in the modern workplace. We’ve helped top companies from adidas to Airbnb revolutionize their platforms, and we want to help you, too. Get in touch today.