Written by Ashley Kemball-Cook
Millennials are driving a trend for socially responsible business with their choices, they want to work for and buy from companies that are making a difference and they are willing to forgo salary and disposable income to do this.
We were at the re-launch of Global Tolerance (a social change consultancy) where they released a piece of research entitled ‘The Values Revolution’. The research looks at the values of millenials in comparison to the general population and states that millenials are significantly more values driven than previous generations. The research goes on to say that this increase in values driven individuals is positively effecting business, there is a growing call for business to deliver more social and environmental change. Global Tolerance collected a panel to discuss why this has happened, what it means and what happens next. The panel consisted of:
Aaron Sherinian- Chief Communications and Marketing Officer for the UN Foundation, Niall Dunne- Chief Sustainability Officer for BT, Robyn Scott- One leap foundation, Shahrar Ali- deputy leader of the Green Party and Alistair Harper- Head of Politics for the Green Alliance.
Millennials are driving a trend for socially responsible business with their choices, they want to work for and buy from companies that are making a difference and they are willing to forgo salary and disposable income to do this. Where 42% of all those surveyed stated they want to work for an organisation that benefits society, 62% of millennials stated the same. 44% of all those surveyed stated they choose meaningful work over salary whereas 50% of millennials would make the same sacrifice. Other interesting findings were:
- Eight out of ten people surveyed say governments, charities and businesses should be more transparent.
- One third of people would work harder if their work benefited society.
- Half said that they wanted to work for a company which has apositive impact on the world.
- Two thirds say companies need to prove they are doing good in the world.
- Six out of ten millennials said they wanted organizations to understand their personal values before asking them to do something, compared with just half of all people surveyed.
The panel discussed topics from BT’s social purpose to collaboration and authenticity. Niall Dunne explained how companies are up against a highly mobilised, connected and motivated customer base of millennials who expect a lot from them, BT aims to meet their requirements by delivering a strong social purpose. It is no longer enough for companies to just state a purpose; they have to also live it. The power to research and investigate resides in everyone and if a company’s purpose in inauthentic, it will be uncovered as such. Aaron of the UN stated; “a brand; if not truly purposeful, will fail!”.
The panel discussed that, ever increasingly, delivering a social purpose requires collaboration across business, government, and NGO’s. There were initiatives like ‘Giving Tuesday’ that many of the panel had worked on together despite their different sectors.
The event was a great indicator that the future may be bright. Millennials are moving up the ranks of companies and into positions of power their focus on social purpose could be a force for positive change. I believe that the current trend towards social purpose is a response to the dire situation of the environment. I posed the question to the panel; is it enough?
In response to this Niall Dunne posited that there currently exists the tech to offset 90% of greenhouse emissions. The answer may lie in stimulating investment to these projects. Shahrar Ali retorted that it in fact requires a values shift from unrelenting and unabated to prudent consumerism. He highlighted the mayhem of ‘Black Friday’ with shopper fighting for a Christmas presents that will most likely end up in landfills by March. Is this the American dream or the American Nightmare? He insinuated it was the latter.
Written by Ashley Kemball-Cook