With widespread labor shortages across the U.S., more businesses are feeling the pressure to improve their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) policies. With Generation Z emerging as the new generation of workers, and a recent report conducted by Deloitte revealed that 60 percent of Gen Z employees are concerned that current leaders in business are not focused enough on protecting the environment. These young workers are looking for employers who can demonstrate their commitment to combating the issues impacting our world.
Gen Z is becoming the most populous and most diverse generation on the planet, which makes it important for companies to consider how they can become an employer of choice. This new generation prioritizes mental health, flexibility and meaningful action on climate change.
According to Diligent, which provides software to simplify corporate governance, getting the right people on board means starting with your ESG commitments. “Employers can prioritize engagement by driving transparency and confidence, and ensuring employees have the information and resources required for them to succeed in their roles,” Diligent’s chief people officer, Avigail Dadone, told TriplePundit. She suggests that this type of engagement allows employees to connect to a company’s mission and commit to shared goals. Some examples that Diligent implements include a goal management platform, an onboarding program to engage new starters for three months, and several employee-led programs and resource groups to focus on peer support and inclusivity in the workplace.
Beyond creating a symbiotic work environment, “Employees and prospective talent are drawn toward ethical companies and want to know how an organization is giving back to the planet and their communities” Dadone noted. Because ESG is still new, there is a lack of clarity around defining and measuring it, which can lead to greenwashing. Companies are challenged to positively present their ESG initiatives in the recruitment process, but without evidence and accuracy, it’s difficult to back up, she added.
It's also necessary to conduct proper risk management for any ESG-related initiatives. Dadone discussed how companies benefit by adopting precise systems that establish a standard of success, then tracking how well they measure up to their goals to keep them accountable. Stakeholders and prospective employees are concerned with sustainable and ethical business practices; therefore, staying on top of ESG reporting keeps companies competitive. Diligent offers ESG management tools, which the organization said are able to help businesses navigate their ESG journeys in a way that is meaningful to them and their stakeholders.
In today’s business and regulatory landscape, ESG strategy is more of a need-to-have than a nice-to-have, Dadone said. Earlier this year the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed rules that require public companies to disclose how climate change risks affect their business and provide more information on their impact on the environment. The implications of these rule changes indicate that failure to meet ESG requirements can result in not only reputational risk, but regulatory, operational and financial risk as well.
Recent years have highlighted the pressing issue of climate change. With wildfires and extreme temperature conditions, Gen Z is awake to this crisis. Their choices are influenced by climate change risks, and where to seek employment is among those choices. Companies with quality ESG initiatives stand out to this diverse generation. Nearly half of Gen Zs surveyed by Deloitte reported their personal ethics have played a role in their career choices. Starting with ESG commitments is one way to ensure getting the right people on board in an organization.
Image credit: Eliott Reyna via Unsplash
Shelby Gorstein is a writer, yoga teacher, and jeweler based in Delray Beach, Florida. Passionate about health, wellness, and sustainability, Shelby covers topics like plant-based living, renewable energy, food waste and nature.