Wanted: meaningful careers 

Blog: Nicolas Dolce

A genuine commitment to social and environmental impact can boost your human capital, especially with millennials


It’s no longer just environmentalists and academics. A growing number of stakeholders, from concerned investors and fund managers to frustrated consumers and policymakers, are calling on businesses to play an active role in solving the ills of society.

In response to these growing expectations, businesses large and small are swapping out traditional CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs (the realm of planting trees, installing green lightbulbs in the office, and mandatory volunteering) in favor of fully integrated sustainability agendas that enshrine positive societal impact as a core piece of the company’s operating model.

Large MNCs like Unilever and IKEA are redefining their corporate identities around ambitious goals to reduce their carbon emissions and enable sustainable and circular lifestyles. Meanwhile, bold startups like Sulapac or the Infinited Fiber Company are creating new biomaterials to replace nonrenewable or harmful resources, and enabling consumers to waste less and share more via digital platforms, like ResQ Club or Zadaa.

Deloitte’s 2018 Human Capital Trends Report uses the term “social enterprise” to describe companies like those above, firms large and small which combine revenue growth and profit-seeking with respect for the environment and society.

The report also highlights one often-overlooked stakeholder group with a great interest in sustainable business: a company’s employees.

In a globalized human capital environment, where attracting the best talent is becoming increasingly difficult, a genuine commitment to sustainable impact can provide a definitive advantage in recruiting, motivating, and retaining top talent. A 2014 Nielsen study found that 67% of employees prefer to work for socially responsible companies, and another study from 2013 found that companies that display a clear mission or purpose achieve 30% more innovation and enjoy 40% higher rates of employee retention.

Enabling meaningful careers is especially important when recruiting and retaining young professionals. Deloitte’s 2017 Millennial Survey found that 88% of millennials believe that employers should play a central role in alleviating issues such as income inequality, hunger, and environmental concerns. The survey also found that millennial employees are 38% more likely to stay for five years at employers who are perceived as supporting the local community.

This emphasis on sustainable careers among millennials is perhaps not terribly surprising. Years of media and classroom coverage on environmental and social crises, from climate change and oil spills to fading social mobility and democracy in decay, have made young people eager to address global challenges through their daily work.

Fortunately for concerned professionals young and old, the number of workplaces allowing them to do just that is constantly growing. ‘Social enterprises’ of all sizes and in all sectors are answering the call, integrating sustainability as a key part of their offerings and identities. In the process, these companies are gaining an advantage in the competition to recruit and retain dedicated and high-performing professionals.

If you would like to learn more about what sustainability can mean for your company, please get in touch with us using the information below.

Note: The author would like to note that in academic literature the definition of a “social enterprise” is more restrictive than in the HC Trends report.

Nicolas Dolce

Nicolas Dolce
Sustainability Services team

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