It’s no secret that the younger generations are becoming more vocal about companies that greenwash (the spreading of misinformation from a company about their social responsibility and sustainability). The youth audience is not afraid to hold firms accountable for what they say or to call them out on the disparity between what they say and what they do. To many employers, this can be scary. But, what I want to try and convince you to do is join the conversation! The people who are spending their time researching a company (around 64% of Millennials, approximately 2.73 million people) and holding them accountable for their corporate and social responsibility, are also likely to possess many of the qualities of a stand-out candidate.
When looking for exceptional candidates, Indeed lists honesty, loyalty, and dependability as top qualities. What’s more honest than calling out companies who greenwash? What encourages loyalty more than working for a company that is actually socially responsible? What’s more dependable than your workforce consciously being sustainable? Your Gen-Z candidates will read Mission Statements and Values documents ‘...expect[ing] consistency and authenticity and will call you out, often publicly, if they don’t see it… [and even] leave companies they believe are hiding or putting too much spin on bad news.’ If this is what Gen Z candidates are ready to analyse and fact-check, chances are the applicants you receive will believe in your sustainability objectives and are going to be caring, community-driven top performers.
So, why and how should you talk to them through your employer branding? Approximately 60% of young people in the UK have ‘eco-anxiety,’ facing chronic stress and mental health problems over the severity of climate change issues. Although a company talking about their green initiatives may not seem like much, to a candidate, it positions a company as trying to do something positive and impactful for their employees' well-being. And in turn, candidates are more likely to be interested and feel more passionately about working there.
Researchers David Jones (University of Vermont) and Chelsea Willness (University of Saskatchewan) have identified the best ways that companies can use sustainability initiatives to draw in new talent. These are:
People naturally talk about things they’re proud of - their child’s ‘Most Improved’ certificate, the Blue Peter badge they got aged 10, their work’s contribution to a sustainable world. If candidates and employees can truly see the change and feel part of it, chances are they will tell people (employee advocacy bonus!). It shows your company is committed to change for the good of the planet - not just because it makes business sense. Being eco-conscious and empathetic also builds a reputation of being an open leader, leading people to be morally drawn to working for a company that cares about the environment.
How can you put this into your employer brand?
Perhaps, most obviously, get involved with initiatives! They can be as grand as reporting your company off-set emissions, to how you’re making the workplace more sustainable, or even getting involved with local community events like this Wildlife competition.
When posting publicly on social media make sure everything you say is accessible. It would be best if you had everyone from the CEO, down to the factory floor workers to understand your initiatives and achievements. Better yet - get these people involved! Feature quotes from them emphasising that this is a team effort and anyone can be involved in creating real, sustainable changes.
Making sure the language is emotive and passionate will help candidates and employees feel connected and emotionally involved in what you say. That'll make them proudly share your content, or better, apply for that job with you.
McDonald's: A simple video highlighting the company-wide initiatives and changes they’re planning to make. Simple, informative and focused on both the immediate and long-term goals.
Connecting to the people
Candidates almost always want to work for a company that shares their own passions and values. Openly talking about green initiatives not only connects to candidates and employees but is also likely to boost that loyalty number mentioned above. Candidates won’t just be working in sales, they’re working in sales at a company that cares about them and the planet.
How can you put this into your employer brand?
People want to see people. Showing employees engaging in green initiatives will encourage others to do so. Also highlighting the well-being and stress-relief benefits will show how caring for the planet can help care for you. Charity work is a big plus here, it generates genuine, the real impact for change, and adds a nice personal, local touch. Always try to link it back to the people, however, to bring home that sense of company-wide caring; “We strive to reduce our environmental impact because we care about how we treat the planet, just like we care about how we treat our people.”
Vodafone Careers: This post shows the team spirit and collective importance of environmental impact. The post highlighted that colleagues get 3 days volunteering as a benefit - a big draw to young activist talent.
All in all, companies should be talking more about green and sustainable initiatives, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’ll help attract good, responsible candidates. They say change starts from within, so why not start with your attraction campaigns to get the right people in?