Opinion: Stop the greenwashing – it’s fooling no one

35% of candidates would turn down a job offer from a company with a poor ESG record

Opinion: Stop the greenwashing – it’s fooling no one

With wildfires ranging across the Canadian forests, pollution sweeping into New York, how long can we turn a blind eye to global warming? What started as a quirky ‘nice to have’ benefit in Silicon Valley start-ups, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) has grown in importance and popularity in 2023. And the data’s all there to back it up.

According to a survey by Deloitte, 76% of Millennials and 84% of Gen Z employees consider a company's social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work – what’s more a study by Cone Communications found that 71% of employees feel more fulfilled and engaged when their company supports social and environmental causes.

So why, then, are too few employers investing in authentic ways beat global warming – and instead opting for greenwashing?

Data from Gitnux found that 68% of executives actually admit their companies are guilty of greenwashing – with two thirds of senior leaders questioning whether their organization’s sustainability efforts were actually genuine.

And it’s not as if candidates don’t notice when companies are paying ‘lip service’ to ESG policies. In an interview with HRD, Craig Haydamack, CHRO of global industrial manufacturer Milliken & Company, explained how a top tier candidate turned down a slew of companies because she didn’t buy what they were selling.

“Recently, I met with a top student at a university we often recruit from,” he told HRD. “Previous to the meeting, the student had actually turned down several job offers from other companies. Why? Because she didn’t trust what they were telling her about their sustainability policies.”

This experience is far from unique – in fact, data from Robert Walters found that 35% of candidates would turn down a job offer from a company with a poor ESG record – placing ESG as more of a priority than politics and charitable endeavors.

So, what does this have to do with me, you ask?

Well, it’s high time employers woke up – climate change isn’t going anywhere at this rate. And neither are employee expectations around ESG.

So instead of pedaling out generic, inauthentic policies – try actioning some real change. It’ll help our planet – and it won’t go a miss with your talent pools.

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