Generation S: Survey reveals employment benefits of sustainable business

Firms accused of 'unethical' practices such as poor environmental performance are missing out on more than half of 'Generation S' candidates, who are more selective about their employer's approach to sustainability .

That is according to a new survey from the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment (IEMA), which represents more than 15,000 environment and sustainability professionals.

According to IEMA, the new generation of sustainability professionals, dubbed ‘Generation S’ – usually in their 30s and boasting a masters degree or doctorate – are basing now their employment decisions on company mantras and environmental performance rather than money.

The survey found that one third of Generation S candidates are concerned about the negative impact that some industries and organisations have on the environment. The majority of Generation S are therefore actively seeking a career which is ‘ethical’ in nature.

IEMA’s chief executive Tim Balcon said: “We are now looking at new generation of savvy career movers. “Generation S” candidates are refusing to work for unethical employers. These career movers are typically extremely well qualified and employers who don’t have a sound reputation for good environment and sustainability performance are missing out on the pick of the crop, whether they are new graduates or career movers.

“Instead, Generation S are looking for employers that offer opportunities to advance their career in a role that can make a positive difference to the planet, the economy and society.”

Job satisfaction

The IEMA report claims that the spotlight on sustainability has magnified since the recent Paris climate talks, with the subject now seeping into up business, political, and consumer agendas. The result of this is increased scrutiny for business practices and an amplified desire to work within the sustainability sector.

According to the survey, 90% of IEMA members report high levels of job satisfaction, while 42% consider themselves “career changers” for the work that they do.

Tim Balcon added: “Environment and sustainability roles are rewarding careers – with high job satisfaction levels. With the economy becoming increasingly dependent on environment and sustainability skills, it’s great to see that many who boast these skills are enjoying their roles to such a high level.

“The new skills and people that are entering the profession have a vital role to play in enhancing and supporting business action in this area.”

As a case in point, in an interview with edie late last year, Interface’s chief innovation officer Nigel Stansfield revealed that the firm’s growing reputation as sustainability leader has helped the business attract top-level talent in all areas of the company.

edie’s Sustainability Skills Workshop

Sustainability professionals have been given the chance to boost the skills they need to take the next step in their careers through edie’s own Sustainability Skills workshop launching tomorrow (26 January).

Find out more here.

Matt Mace

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