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What do employees want? Corporate Social Responsibility

Millennials and Generation Z have perhaps been stereotyped and maligned more than any other generation in history, yet could arguably be the most socially and economically conscious generation. It is an age group that has the majority of time and size on its side, particularly when it comes to the workplace. Therefore, their thoughts and views bear a lot of weight when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Corporate Social Responsibility is a business model followed by companies who want to enhance rather than degrade society, and have a positive influence on the world.

A whitepaper by PLAY, a London product development studio, has found that 77 percent of all workers want their employer to be more transparent about their environmental impact.

1,000 employees based in the UK were asked about their companies sustainability initiatives, with only 14 percent saying they believed their initiatives were impactful or genuine. 68 percent said they feel it’s important that they work for a company that has committed to acting sustainably.

When breaking the results down, particular industries were more likely to agree that behaviour changes are necessary for ensuring that individuals and businesses can achieve their sustainability goals. The legal sector, finance and IT all saw agreement over 80 percent, whereas only just over 60 percent of those from the travel and tourism industry agreed.

The History Of Corporate Social Responsibility

This particular whitepaper comes after the defining Cone Millennial Cause Study in 2006 found that the Millennial generation was the first to be majorly concerned with Corporate Social Responsibility. 80 percent of the 13-25-year-olds who took part in the study said they wanted to work for a socially responsible company. But perhaps more shockingly, more than half would refuse to work for a company that didn’t align with these values.

Millennials are thought to currently make up almost half of the entire workforce, with this increasing to almost two thirds by 2025. The older generation of Generation Z is also entering the workplace.

CSR has attracted attention since the 1960s, but early critics argued that businesses may have just used it as a PR exercise or a form of greenwashing. Now, however, businesses, individuals and nations all have a part to play in sustainability so CSR is more widely accepted and sought-after by society.

Corporate Social Responsibility is a form of self-regulation, which makes implementation and the rules around it much more difficult. However, around the world, businesses are also increasingly having to follow regulations implemented at local and national levels as countries strive to meet pollution and other environmental targets.

Going above and beyond any regulatory requirements is still thought to be beneficial to brand recognition, though.

The Deloitte Climate Change 101 for Business Leaders report found that without preventing further climate change, businesses could suffer from disrupted supply chains, declines in productivity from both business and workers, and labour challenges.

How Corporate Social Responsibility Can Play A Key Part In Employment

If corporations are looking to recruit the best talent from this generation, social responsibility is one of the key ways to connect and maintain relationships with the upcoming workforce and find the best talent available.

So what can corporations do? To be more socially responsible, businesses can implement organic and ‘Earth friendly’ standards when it comes to office spaces, canteens and work production. But a completely socially responsible company also needs to consider fair wages for employees, annual charitable donations, and transparent public reporting when it comes to data.

As for employees considering where they next work, there may be some tough questions for you to ask - but don’t be afraid to ask if it is important to you. Firstly scan their website and check for any sustainability signs, such as awards. Many large brands who are actively making changes will wear their heart on their sleeve and be open about their plans. Websites such as Ethical Consumer rate thousands of brands from banks and media outlets to clothing stores and food production companies.

But if things are not as transparent as you’d wish, don’t be afraid to ask questions during interview processes, or beforehand as a customer via email or social media. If it is a current workplace or educational setting that you’re concerned about, talk to management or even email the CEO and ask for transparency.


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