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Rules of Engagement: Sustainability and CSR Initiatives Can Be Enticing

Corporate sustainability initiatives are becoming increasingly important in recruiting talent, and companies are making ‘green’ or sustainability initiatives a core part of their supply chain strategy.

* By Sarah B. Hood *

As Millennials and their successors (“GenZ,” born around 2000) flood the workplace, employers with strong sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) records stand to win in the recruitment arena. Members of the younger demographic value qualities like work-life balance and a sense of satisfaction or doing well in their work lives at least as much as monetary rewards.

Corporate sustainability initiatives are becoming increasingly important in recruiting talent, now that “these future candidates can very easily research what your company cares about,” said Jeromie Atkinson, senior director, supply chain at MHI member TECSYS. And it is something they take seriously at TECSYS already. Last December, TECSYS received a 2018 Supply & Demand Chain Executive Green Supply Chain Award, which recognizes companies making ‘green’ or sustainability a core part of their supply chain strategy and working to achieve measurable sustainability goals within their own operations and supply chains.

The changes aren’t just happening on the corporate side, though. It is happening on both sides of the interview desk—and sustainability is just one of the topics. “The top 10 things that drive employees are pretty different than they were 50—or even 25 or 10—years ago,” said Atkinson.

The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey reported that “during the next year, if given the choice, one in four Millennials would quit his or her current employer to join a new organization or to do something different.” However, “corporate values that are shared with and believed by Millennials also promote loyalty—particularly when employers demonstrate a strong sense of company purpose beyond financial success.”

Fidelity Investments’ Evaluate a Job Offer Study, a survey of full-time workers, found that 41 percent of Millennial respondents expected to start a new job in the next two years, despite being happy at work, and reported they would take a pay cut averaging $7,600 in exchange for an improved quality of work life—which might include purposeful work or corporate culture.

Similarly, the 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study found that 64 percent of Millennials actually won’t take a job unless the employer demonstrates strong CSR practices, while 83 percent “would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues” and 89 percent “expect employers to provide hands-on activities around environmental responsibilities in the workplace.”

“The new generation of employees who are coming out of school place a greater emphasis on corporate responsibility, and one of those elements is sustainability,” Atkinson said. “They want organizations to create programs and to instill in their employees a sense of responsibility for the environment.”

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There is no silver bullet to building a workforce that can thrive in this new digital environment. It takes leadership, collaboration, innovative talent sourcing, continuous training and improvement. This issue of MHI Solutions focuses on this important topic from the technologies driving changing skill sets to industry-academia collaboration to how to hire, retain and develop the digital supply chain workforce.

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