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Gen Zs, millennials serious on sustainability
Environment, climate change concerns drive career decisions, consumer behaviours
The Asset 17 May 2024

Environmental sustainability continues to be among Gen Zs and millennials’ top priorities, and this has held true through major events – Covid, geopolitical instability, high inflation and technological change – and impacted the way they work, according to a recent survey.

Six in 10 Gen Zs (62%) and millennials (59%) say they have felt worried or anxious about climate change in the last month, up two points for both generations from last year, finds global accounting firm Deloitte’s 2024 Gen Z and Millennial Survey. In response, the majority of both generations take action to minimize their impact on the environment (say 73% of Gen Zs and 77% of millennials).

As well, they feel governments should play a bigger role in pushing business to address climate change (77% of Gen Zs and 79% of millennials), while they also believe that business, in turn, could and should do more to enable consumers to make more sustainable purchasing decisions (79% of Gen Zs and 81% of millennials).

Protecting the environment, the survey notes, is the societal challenge where respondents feel businesses have the greatest opportunity and necessary influence to drive change. And Gen Zs and millennials are pushing business to do so, through their career decisions and their consumer behaviours.

Around half of Gen Zs (54%) and millennials (48%), the survey shares, say they and their colleagues are putting pressure on their employers to take action on climate change, a trend that has steadily increased since 2022 when 48% of Gen Zs and 43% of millennials said the same. If they can’t drive change within their own organizations, some are willing to switch to a different job, or even to a different industry.

Taking action

Two in 10 Gen Zs (20%) and millennials (19%), the survey notes, have already changed jobs or industries due to environmental concerns, and another 26% of Gen Zs and 23% of millennials plan to in the future.

When seeking a new employer, a quarter of Gen Zs and millennials have already conducted research on the organization’s environmental impact and policies before accepting a job from them, and another third plan to do so in the future.

And 72% of Gen Zs and 71% of millennials say environmental credentials and policies are important when considering a potential employer.

When asked to select the top three areas where they’d like to see their employers invest more resources to help fight climate change, Gen Zs and millennials say they want:

  • more employee education and training to help them be more sustainable in their own lives (25% of Gen Zs and 29% of millennials),
  • employee subsidies for sustainable choices (25% of Gen Zs and 27% of millennials)
  • renovations at office locations to make them greener (19% of Gen Zs and 21% of millennials).

But a number of other initiatives were close behind on the list, including:

  • transforming the core business model to be more sustainable, for example, by offering more sustainable products or services (19% of Gen Zs and millennials)
  • committing to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within the next decade, in line with the goals of the Paris agreement (18% of Gen Zs and 17% of millennials)
  • working more closely with governments to advance sustainability initiatives (18% of Gen Zs and millennials).

While they believe that more progress is needed, the majority of respondents agree that their employers are working to address climate change (59% of Gen Zs and 58% of millennials). And a similar percentage (58% of Gen Zs and 54% of millennials) say their employers are providing training and skills development to prepare their people for the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Beyond their own employers, respondents, the survey adds, are pushing businesses to be more sustainable by making eco-conscious decisions about consumption and the brands they will or will not engage with. For example, many avoid fast fashion, reduce air travel, eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, or purchase electric vehicles.

Further, three in 10 Gen Zs (30%) and millennials (29%) conduct research on a company’s environmental impact and policies before buying products or services from them. And roughly two-thirds of Gen Zs (64%) and millennials (63%) are willing to pay more to purchase environmentally sustainable products or services.

And finally, the survey finds, a quarter of Gen Zs (25%) and millennials (24%) have stopped or lessened a relationship with a business because of unsustainable practices in its supply chain.

 

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