Gen Z is redefining the idea of what constitutes a great career. So, if employers want to attract and retain the best talent this values-led generation has to offer, they need to get their workplaces in order – now!
The weight of evidence that finds many young people factoring in strong sustainability and ethical commitments as a ‘must have’ in any future employer is growing. A recent survey from KPMG UK found that, when it comes to looking for a new role, one in three 18-24 years olds had turned down a job because the company’s ESG commitments were not in line with their values.
We caught up with our very own Bella Smith – a stellar, values-driven Gen Zer – whose strong personal commitments to sustainability and climate action saw her career path leading her to the open doors of Net Zero Now.
Why do you think Gen Z are factoring sustainability concerns into their career choices?
Gen Z – those of us born in the last few years of the 90s through to 2012 - are feeling the psychological effects of climate change, and we’re making our career choices accordingly.
My generation is going to have to live with the effects of the climate crisis no matter what. And, whilst getting rich from our careers would be great, how can we enjoy that wealth if climate catastrophe has given us a much poorer quality of life? For me, it’s natural to want to address climate change, and to gear our careers towards this goal.
I think that growing up with 24/7 access to the internet and social media has made us more globally-minded than other generations. We have constant access to images and stories of human suffering caused by climate change and we have strong empathy, which drives our wish to do something about the situation.
Finally, the pandemic has changed our relationship with work and demonstrated that life can be short and full of upheavals. Like many Gen Z folks, I’d rather not spend time toiling away at thankless tasks that are negatively impacting the planet, when climate change is the biggest challenge facing our generation.
How do you think businesses need to respond?
In order to attract, retain and nurture Gen Z talent, companies need to address the issue of climate change effectively and honestly. Climate change weighs heavily on Gen Z’s mind. Increasingly, we’re entering the workforce and making up a larger and larger demographic of the working population, such that, by 2025, Gen Z will make up 27% of the workforce. As an employer, it is crucial to accommodate Gen Z’s appetite for positive change, especially if you want to win top talent – and keep them.
What attracted you to working for Net Zero Now?
Personally, a massive part of the appeal of working at Net Zero Now was the opportunity to start a meaningful career that allowed me to make positive and concrete change.
I am extremely passionate about climate activism and was heavily involved in it during my time at university, so I felt it would have been hypocritical of me to work in a role that didn’t reflect my strong values. This meant that a fair bit of my job and internship hunts involved researching the ESG credentials - specifically the environmental credentials - of a given company before deciding whether to accept an interview with them or to even apply in the first place. I knew I couldn’t make peace with myself or feel happy and motivated working somewhere that actively and unapologetically polluted the planet.
Is this unusual amongst your friends?
The vast majority of my friends who are looking for jobs consider similar things in their job hunt. In fact, several of my friends are studying for, or retraining to pursue, careers that directly address the climate crisis.
I understand that not everyone can work in climate-focused roles, but many of my peers are looking for companies that sit well with their values – those with excellent sustainability credentials, for instance. I’d be hard-pushed to find anyone I know who would be excited to work for Big Oil, or for a steak restaurant that was doing nothing to address its carbon footprint!
So, if you’re a business owner that’s reading this and thinking that now’s the time to get into good Gen Z shape, why not get in touch to book a demo and see how Net Zero Now can get you on the right tracks!
Bella Smith is a Commercial Account Executive at Net Zero Now.