1 in 3 young workers turn down jobs if a business reveals weak ESG ratings

09 February 2023 by Acre
blog author

​Millennials and younger workers are already considered a force to be reckoned with, so it may come as little surprise that they are turning down jobs with companies that lag behind when it comes to valuing ESG factors.

According to a new study by professional services firm KPMG, businesses lacking robust environmental, social and governance credentials are not appealing to younger prospective candidates who are searching for a more environmentally friendly and purpose-driven role.

The KPMG UK survey, conducted in October, involved 6,000 UK adult office workers, students, apprentices and those who left higher education in the past six months and sought to shed light on their work attitudes.

It disclosed that a fifth of millennials and Gen Z job seekers, who are renowned for holding companies to account for their environmental and social conduct, would rather refuse a position they were offered (known as ‘climate quitting’) in favour of holding out for a job with a company whose ESG values aligned with their own.

Rebuffing job offers

20 per cent confessed to turning down a job offer because the company’s ESG commitments were not in line with their own values, which increased to one in three workers in the 18–24 age range.

Just under half of respondents admitted they wanted to work for a firm demonstrating a stronger commitment to ESG, with 25–34-year-olds most likely to value ESG commitments (a total of 55 per cent), swiftly followed by 18–24-year-olds (51 per cent) and 35–44-year-olds (48 per cent).

The younger respondents were revealed to be the group most likely to be seeking a job linked to ESG while 64 per cent refused to work within certain industries for ethical reasons. However, if the company displayed a firm ESG commitment, 37 per cent said they would change their mind.

Job seekers sharpening the lens on ESG

The focus has shifted from job seekers looking to better understand a company’s background when applying for roles to heavy scrutiny of ESG credentials. The survey showed 30 per cent of workers researched a company’s ESG credentials when job seeking, which rose to 45 per cent for those in the 18-24 age bracket embarking on a new career.

Key priorities for workers are environmental impact and living wage policies. Commitments to fair pay were more attractive for 18–34-year-olds while 35–44-year-olds were more interested in how the company’s operations impact the environment.

A total of 82 per cent emphasized the importance of connecting values and purpose with the organisation they work with, with those aged 18-24 most likely to agree with this.

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.

“For businesses, the direction of travel is clear. By 2025, 75 per cent 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.”

Ashleigh Polakiewicz, Senior Consultant – Professional Services & Real Estate at Acre UK, said: “An impactful and insightful survey. Companies need to commit to putting ESG at the top of their agenda if they want to attract and retain employees.”