Recently gathered data below supposes that with each generation we are seeing an increasingly positive trend around the allotted importance of sustainable behaviour in organisations. In certain industry circles, ‘millenials are the generation who care more’ is almost an accepted adage. But is this really the case? Is this really what the data below represents? Or are we looking at a case of lies, damned lies and statistics?
Source: PWC, ‘millenials at work’ report
Perhaps if we had asked now-55 to 64 year-olds this question when they were 18-24, the green bar representing them would have been a little higher too. As the years add up the list of responsibilities, on average, tends to get a little longer. Perhaps for this generation, before the time came when they had to think about a family, health insurance, car tax, holidays, school fees, pensions, they would have left their employer for a more socially responsible one too. If this hypothesis were true, it would even fit with the incremental trend by generation. The theory being that our 55-64-year olds have the most to think about, including whether or not they’re going to get the pension they’ve saved for, and that the preceding generation has similar worries but not as pressing and so on, until we hit ‘the generation who cares’. Except they’ll eventually find more of these issues to care about too.
However, I don’t think that this is an accurate argument. It may be an easy conclusion to jump to, but it entirely neglects the following two points:
- Due to a final acceptance by many iconic political and economic figures that climate change is something we ought to take seriously, alongside the democracy of information that exists as a result of internet access, social issues have more prevalence and traction than ever before in wider society.
- And this is compounded by the fact that, thanks to the pervasive and omniscient nature of social media, most millenials have the impetus to care more. A job is no longer just a 9-5, it’s an identity. Where you shop is no longer driven by price, or locality, but by who you want to align your identity to. We are more exposed than ever before, because we are almost constantly plugged-in to the extensive and incredibly influential social network. The consciousness of which ardently argues that it’s not okay to work for corrupt corporations, or shop from sweatshop beneficiaries.
So I don’t think the statistics are lying. There is every reason to believe that millenials do really care more, as opposed to simply purporting to because they’re at an age where they can afford to. It’s because modern society demands it of them. Because they are educated toward caring. And it means that there is a rapidly growing perception that sustainability is a key component of the modern business agenda.
Businesses who ignore this shift in perception from those who are set to be the most influential generation of the coming years, do so at their own risk.