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  • Kendall Plein

New Study Shows Sustainability in the Workplace is Important to a Majority of Americans

Corporate sustainability, ESG’s, and conscious capitalism have entered the public consciousness in America. While these terms are often nebulous or hard to define, more Americans are choosing to value sustainability in the workplace.

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A recent survey conducted by SK Group shows that more than half of Americans prefer to work for a company committed to sustainability. The survey also indicates younger generations (Gen Z and Gen Y) place sustainability at a higher priority than older generations.

ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) standards are increasingly popular with investors, showing 51% more institutional investors and 45% more fund selectors buying and selling active ESG investments in 2020, compared to 2019, according to Nasdaq. ESG performance growth reflects interest and engagement with corporate sustainability. Just as consumers and investors show interest in sustainability, the U.S. workforce shows interest in working for an earth-conscious company. The sustainability-related job market is also growing in response to climate awareness. LinkedIn data shows rapid growth in skills like environmental policy and supply chain management, as reported by GreenBiz.

SK Group, a South Korean organization, focusing on sustainable growth, surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults in May 2021 on the importance of corporate sustainability. U.S adults are increasingly interested in corporate transparency and accountability. 68% of Americans say it is important for companies to be transparent about their commitments to sustainability and their progress on environmental initiatives.

64% of Millennials and 59% of Gen Z’s say they want to work for sustainable companies, while only 41% of Baby Boomers do. The survey suggests a trend in younger adults placing higher importance on sustainability versus older generations. Younger generations are entering the workforce, and companies need to respond to these changing values to attract applicants.

Hyung-Hee Lee, Social Value Committee President of the SK Supex Council, notes that "employees across all levels want to work for organizations that have a positive impact on the environment and do their part to address climate change." Job seekers are looking to work for companies that share their values, and companies must respond to this changing value system if they want to continue to attract new hires.

Climate change is no longer something we can ignore. The SK Group survey reveals that climate change has the possibility of shifting job markets. Corporate sustainability and socially conscious business are growing trends, responding to changing attitudes in America. Companies may need to reevaluate their environmental initiatives if they want to continue to attract new talent that highly values the environment.


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