Third of Gen Z workers reject job offers based on company’s green record

Young people protesting for action on climate change - Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Young people protesting for action on climate change - Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

A third of Gen Z workers claim to have rejected a job offer because of a company’s poor green credentials, according to new research.

A survey of 6,000 adults found that one in five claim to have turned down a job offer when the employer’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) commitments were not in line with their values.

This rose to one in three for people aged between 18 and 24 years old.

The survey, conducted by KPMG, highlights how social and environmental factors are becoming increasingly important for workers, particularly among the younger generation.

It found that almost half of people want the company they work for to demonstrate a commitment to ESG, while more than 80pc placed importance on being able to link values and purpose with the organisation they work for.

One in three have researched a company’s ESG credentials while looking for a job, rising to almost half for those starting out in their career.

The environmental impact of the work the company does was among the key areas sought out as part of the recruitment process, alongside living wage policies.

Gen Z workers were the most likely to be actively seeking a job linked to ESG, while two-thirds of office workers said there were certain industries they refused to work with for ethical reasons.

John McCalla-Leacy, head of ESG at KPMG in the UK, said: “It is clear from recent COP27 discussions that, while some progress is being made, there is still a long way to go if we are going to limit global temperature rises to 1.5C.

“It is the younger generations that will see the greater impacts if we fail to reach this target, so it is unsurprising that this, and other interrelated ESG considerations, are front of mind for many when choosing who they will work for.”

ESG has risen from the sidelines to become a major issue in the City, with many institutional investors putting increased emphasis on meeting targets, while ESG-focused funds now control hundreds of billions of pounds.

But critics have warned that these credentials are a blunt tool that fail to reflect the real world.

Companies including BNY Mellon and Deutsche Bank subsidiary DWS have faced legal action over accusations they exaggerated their environmental credentials – a practice dubbed “greenwashing”.

A previous report from KPMG also found that around half of chief executives are planning to shelve their ESG targets as they shift their focus ahead of a looming recession.

Still, Mr McCalla-Leacy said “the direction of travel is clear” for businesses.

He added: “By 2025, 75pc of the working population will be millennials, meaning they will need to have credible plans to address ESG if they want to continue to attract and retain this growing pool of talent.”