Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) planning has become a major part of purpose-led businesses keen on having a positive impact on their community as well as the environment they operate in. At a base level, Deloitte defines ESG as capturing “all the non-financial risks and opportunities inherent to a company’s day-to-day activities”, or finding ways of improving all three pillars of ESG within and adjacent to an organisation’s operation [1].

However, ESG was until recently a voluntary action. Spurred by the increased awareness of shareholders and consumers on key sustainability issues such as gender equality, diversity on boards, environmental behaviour and fair practices throughout supply chains, ESG has become a more prescient force within businesses’ decision-making.

In late 2022 the European Parliament voted to report on ESG data for small, medium and large businesses to make corporations publicly accountable [2]. From 2027 onwards, on top of their financial reporting, firms must now declare other important indicators of internal sustainability, including but not limited to the number of women in managing positions, their CO2 emission and offsetting, their waste management or impact of supply chains. Financial reporting no longer suffices.

This shift to become a purpose-led business is creating new opportunities that provide a comprehensive, positive impact to both companies and the community they operate in and serve. It is a holistic value creation including creating jobs, increasing tax revenue and raising standards of living to mention a few. These goals are part of a co-creation with the community rather than an ESG “box-ticking” exercise. [1, 3]. 

What are the community-building opportunities with the ESG framework?

Purpose-led organisations consider the impact of their operations beyond the financial bottom line. An ESG framework requires companies to review their engagement within their community on several levels. It provides them with the chance to actively involve themselves and collaborate with local communities, consider their needs, perspectives and aspirations. Corporations with larger scopes and size get involved with governments, civil society and other stakeholders to collaborate and generate positive impact on a larger scale. Large or small, some key principles are to be respected in all scenarios:

1. Purpose

Before engaging in activities and collaboration, the company needs to have a clear purpose defining the impact it wishes to have. The purpose will define what’s important for the company and its community to engage in, helps to define the values of the organisation and will gain engagement by its employees, when defining the purpose, companies need to include the social and environmental development on top of economic growth.

2. Inclusivity and community engagement

Inclusivity is a must for a successful business. As the consultancy firm Gartner rightly stated [4]: “Teams that are diverse in gender and highly inclusive perform 50% better than teams that are only diverse.” Inclusive behaviour starts with including all stakeholders in collaboration and decision-making despite their backgrounds, cultures and socio-economic statuses. For employees this could mean offering hybrid work environments and support for working parents in managing their work-life balance. Another example is including frontline workers in white-collar projects and using multiple communications channels as not everyone has access to a computer or mobile device.

3. Transparency

With collaboration and communication, transparency has a big part to play. Transparency allows not only to develop psychological safety for employees and partners within community projects, but it is also important to build your reputation.

Good stewards of capital and values, purpose-led organisations communicate about their data and report on their sustainable progress today. Shiny statements and bold declarations no longer suffice – there must be reporting and accountability.

4. Partnerships and community development

To address and contribute the society’s most pressing issues, companies seek to collaborate in partnerships to find solutions for specific matters.

For example, to upskill talent within their communities, some organisations create training programmes or offer scholarships. This can help the company address shortages in skilled personnel, but also creates jobs in the local community.

5. Long and short-term perspectives

Every strategy addresses long and short-term perspectives. Short-term perspectives are often of a financial nature. Social progress requires more time and is considered long-term. When establishing an ESG framework for your company, community development and engagement require careful planning, structuring of operations and monitoring of impact versus community needs can take years to implement. The benefit to stakeholders may take longer, but the impact can be profound.

Developing the Right Solutions

Every corporation has the potential to favourably impact specific groups of people,” explains Sabrina El-Chibini, CEO at the Collaboration Vector [5], “Social impact can be evaluated through the collection of quantitative and qualitative data that together paint a full picture.  It encompasses an increasingly interrelated set of employee and community indicators that extend beyond amount of money and time invested, towards an understanding of the overall value generated. This supports a hypothesis that company performance correlates directly with value generated for people.”  

What this means is that the best to implement ESG is to collaborate with your local stakeholders within your community. Listen to their needs, identify the gaps you are able to address in the short medium, and long-term either with your own means or through collaboration with other entities in the area, build an ESG policy that takes into account the community you directly impact on top of the consumers and employees you seek to attract. With an increasing number of consumers aware of sustainability issues across a range of sectors and the active transition to responsible operations, ESG provides your business with an opportunity to develop the right solutions for yourself, your clients, your community, and the world at large. 

Today, responsible businesses and savvy profit-seeking ones know that if they wish to attract high calibre employees, business partners and customers they must walk the walk and not just talk the talk about the environment,” notes Linda Todd [6].

Considering the positive effect of ESG on a purpose-led company’s bottom-line, the argument is two-fold: enabling sustainable development is popular with clients, employees, and local communities. Firms of any size can have a positive effect on society, ESG policies are not limited to the Deloittes and McKinseys of the world. Small and medium-sized enterprises are often times in a better position to have an impact on their local community than many realise [7].

Have you thought about how your ESG policies could be maximised impact on your business and your community?

View our latest video in this subject: https://youtu.be/65YEv6d52kE

Key Takeaways:


[1] Deloitte, 2021, “#1 What is ESG?”
[2] European Parliament, 2022, “Press Release – Sustainable economy: Parliament adopts new reporting rules for multinationals”
[3] Witold Henisz, Tim Koller, and Robin Nuttall, 2019, “Five ways that ESG creates value”, McKinsey
[4] Christy Pettey, 2019, “Embrace Gender Diversity in Security and Risk Management Roles”, Gartner
[5] Sabrina el-Chibini, 2021, “The Social in ESG: aligning corporate, community, and investor interest through a common framework.”, LinkedIn
[6] Linda Todd, 2022, “ESG – not simply a box ticking exercise”, LinkedIn
[7] Wai-Shin Chan, 2022, “The importance of ESG for SMEs”, HSBC

Whether it is at a corporate level or a blue-collar environment, women continue to face major issues in equitable integration and opportunities within the workforce [1, 2]. Bridging the gender gap, achieving fair wages, and ensuring more representative demographics at leadership levels are key. This International Women’s Day, LEAD-WiSE brings you the insights of Cynthia Hansen, Managing Director of the Innovation Foundation, and their work on these issues that underpin those very challenges.

[Annabell Cox] You do a lot of exciting projects and one of those is getting women back into the workforce and I’d love to hear a little bit more about this project you’re running. What are the reasons women are taking career breaks? Why do we have that gap?

[Cynthia Hansen] We’ve actually done a lot of looking at why women drop out, and there are a lot of different reasons, but I think for the most part it comes back to balancing all the different demands on you in your life. In a lot of cases, it’s caring. The statistics show hugely that it’s usually caring not just for kids, but also caring for elderly parents or for people with disabilities, other people in your life… And so caring is one of the biggest reasons, but I think it comes down to not just caring – it’s kind of a surface-level issue. It’s more about how you can balance the different demands of your time in a way that suits you. Ultimately most of the people we see, women in particular, are dropping out for that reason.

Is there a specific age group?

We find that a lot of women drop out at that age of say between roughly 25 and 45 when they have school-age kids. That’s not the only reason, but that is definitely a trend that we see throughout the world. We did a couple of pieces of research last year, they were specifically looking at why women drop out and the kind of hidden target audiences within that, because it’s not just women in general, but also we’re seeing that women at either the bottom end of the age range or at the top end of the age range tend to drop out at higher rates and women in mid and low skill demographics also tend to drop out. Women with caring responsibilities also drop out, but the trends are really across the board.

What kind of concrete actions could small and medium enterprises put in place in order to welcome women or avoid women dropping out within those age groups you’ve just mentioned?

I think for SMEs, it is particularly hard, because a lot of those provisions that bigger companies can put in place, are really expensive. So, if you look at the returnship programs that exist in a number of big companies, they’re geared toward bringing women back in after they have had a career break, but they’re focused mainly on white collar, educated, high skilled women and big companies will do that, because that’s a premium audience. They want those women back in and so they’ll create the glide path, they’ll create the programs to come back in with. But if you’re looking at low-skill, mid-skill women or if you’re looking at smaller organizations, they’re often just isn’t the ability or the will to invest there. 

So, I would say what SME’s can do is actually build this retention of women all the way in from the attraction and the hiring process to the onboarding, to the culture. Make sure that women feel welcomed, supported, that they see the role models at the top levels, that there is this idea from the beginning that it’s a ‘bringing your whole self to work’ situation. That [as an SME], you will work with them to figure out what suits them and to make sure that you can be flexible around the other needs in their life. SMEs actually have more ability to do that as a small organization than you do as a large organization. 

We’ve tried to model this in my own team. 

We are a separate legal entity from the Adecco Group. We’re clearly very embedded with the group, but we’re tiny. Right now, we’re seven people, at our biggest we’ve been 12. I’ve had people who worked part-time, who worked entirely remotely. We had people who needed to go and work remotely for a month or two because of family issues. For us, it doesn’t matter where you are, as long as you’re really embedded with the team, you’re connecting with people, you’re delivering what you’re supposed to. We had a colleague who went and worked for two months in Russia, another who worked for a month in Spain for family reasons. That’s absolutely fine. So as a small light company, you can make those provisions. You can weave it into your culture in a way that maybe is harder in a bigger established organization.

What are you doing in particular as the Innovation Foundation to accelerate that transition for women going back to work? What is that project about? 

So this is a project that is partway through our process – that thing that looks like a propeller, our process of Scan, Build, and Scale.

Scan is data-driven landscape scanning to help us understand: Who is falling out of the workforce and why, or who’s in danger of falling out? So we use that research and that methodology to go from women, which is [a huge dataset], all the way down to women who are in low-skill, mid-skill jobs who have had a career break of over a year, excluding maternity leave. So this is not just maternity leave, but really being out of work. We’re looking at the age range of roughly 35 to 45. That’s often where women will have caring responsibilities either for kids or for parents. Then, we’ve decided to do the place-based solution in Spain. This is where we get down to: what are we solving for and for whom?

Now, we go into Build, which is the second part of that propeller. That’s design, thinking based innovation, ideation. So, we’ve got this fantastic working group that has end users, women from that demographic in it plus organizations, companies, experts, HR people and we’re running through a design process. We’ll come out with a couple of solutions, they’ll take those solutions and it goes into Scale, which is an accelerator that actually builds them into products. 

We’ll build a little venture team around each one and then they will have six months and a chunk of money to go out and build an MVP – build that thing – whether it’s an app, a platform, a campaign – into a real solution. Then they come back and they pitch to us and if we believe that it’s got legs, then they go into another six months, another chunk of money. The aim is to build it up into something that is good enough and test it enough that one of the partner organizations will take it forward. So nothing will ever stay with us.

As the Foundation, we’re always building these things kind of as a flywheel that will go out into the world. So that’s what we’re working on right now. Specific to that idea of frontline workers, mid-skill, low-skill women coming back after a career break, what we found was that nobody was looking at that demographic, nobody was building programs or solutions for that demographic. [What we’ve created] is basically an incubator, but what makes it different is we’re not incubating external ideas or SMEs or startups or even entrepreneurs. It’s really whatever comes out of our process and then we build it with the right people.

What drove you to develop this specific idea? Why is that close to the Foundation and to yourself?

So the Foundation is really focused on anyone who is in an underserved population, who is in danger of falling out of work or falling out of work, the focus on women really came from statistics. We were seeing in the wake of the COVID pandemic that women dropped out at a much higher rate and women in precarious situations dropped out at an even higher rate, and as the pandemic started to tail off. They weren’t coming back, so we were really interested in why they were not coming back and why are they not coming back into certain industries that need people. Things like hospitality, health care, logistics, manufacturing, retail. And these are all industries that tend to employ a lot of women in that demographic and that need people now. So, we wanted to unpack that and figure out if we could find a solution that would help women who are vastly needed in the workforce to come back in and that would help those industries who need people.

What would be the benefit for small and medium enterprises to get their workforce back and to keep those women into the workforce?

I think a lot of it is about deeply understanding what the needs are of the workforce that you want to attract, and this is actually what we’re spending a lot of time in that working group on. So, this is really valuable, maybe even more valuable for SMEs than for large companies because SMEs need to choose their people really carefully and they need to retain them. So, if you can actually take the tools that we are developing to better understand what the needs are of the workforce that you want to attract then you’re going to be a more attractive employer. You’re going to be able to retain people, you’ll be able to develop them and that then allows you as an SME to grow, but to grow with the right people – and you’ll probably contribute a lot to your own brands, your company brands as being family friendly or women friendly in general. 

Key Takeaways:

A workplace that stands for something, company culture that supports its employees, flexible work styles, good work-life balance, a sense of purpose – these are just some of the things Gen Z wants from its employers [1-3]. While these preferences are not overly demanding, Deloitte warns that few industries and businesses seem ready for their arrival into the workforce [3]. This should come as no surprise, as Gen Z have challenged the status quo ruling society even before they entered the workforce, by calling for more inclusive and transparent actions on global sustainability issues [1, 4].

“Gen-Z’s expectations in the workplace are values-driven and aligned with their personal morals,” explains Ashley Stahl [5]. This means that employers across industries will have to adapt or face being replaced by more modern competitors [3]. So what exactly can a business do to attract the next generation of workers?

Again, while not a difficult set of changes to achieve for a business, there remains a lot of work to be done across various industries to meet them [3]. Generation Z has shown that they will not compromise their own beliefs for the labor system. Outside of this, they echo a lot of the same talking points as the generations that came before them, such as respect in the workplace and fair pay. “Evaluating the behavior of an entire generation can be tricky, but research and data show that Gen-Z workers are bringing some fresh ideas and a strong work ethic to the world of work,” Stahl concludes [5]. Is your business optimized and up to standard for the next generation?

Key Takeaways:


[1] Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Gen Z Challenge Status Quo”, LEAD-WiSE.
[2] Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Encouraging Sustainability by Digital Means”, LEAD-WiSE.
[3] Karianne Gomez, Tiffany Mawhinney, Kimberly Betts, Kerri Sapp, Ahmed Brown & Kara Santner, 2020, “Welcome to Generation Z”, Deloitte.
[4] Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Dialogue Between Activists and Businesses – Key to Creating a Sustainable World”, LEAD-WiSE.
[5] Ashley Stahl, 2021, “How Gen-Z Is Bringing A Fresh Perspective To The World Of Work”, Forbes.
[6] Carl Oliveri, 2022, “Want to attract and retain Gen Z talent? Respect them”, Fast Company.
[7] Jordan Rosenfeld, 2022, “Here’s How Gen Z Is Changing the Workplace — and What Experts Think It Means for the Future”, Yahoo Finance.

There are many ways for companies to encourage sustainability within their organization and community, yet one aspect that is often forgotten is the use of remote or digital work. Prior to the global COVID pandemic in 2020, working from home was not seen as a productive alternative to an office environment. A growing movement of ‘digital nomads’ or entirely remote workers was starting to carve itself a niche within the workforce – but overall, the concept of working individually in a non-work sanctioned environment was not usually tolerated [1, 2].

“Pre-pandemic, there […] was a negative stigma associated with volunteering to work from home,” explains Nicholas Bloom, an Economics professor at Stanford University [1], “The pandemic obviously changed all of this because everyone was doing it. Now this negative stigma has disappeared and it’s become normalized.” Several pre-pandemic studies highlighted that persons working from home were more efficient and productive overall, and following the pandemic when more fully remote and hybrid positions are available, those trends have continued [2].

A Myriad of Positive Outcomes

Enabling workers to work digitally has several positive outcomes outside of the productivity increase. Remote workers and digital nomads explain that online work enables them to better juggle their work-life balance, it makes them happier and provides them with more flexibility and time to engage in other activities [1]. In general, companies offering remote or hybrid work are more attractive for employees due to the improved flexibility. Improved mental health aside, shifting to digital operations has a range of benefits from an environmental perspective for both employee and employer. 

One of the obvious changes is the reduction of commute times. Decreasing the amount of vehicles on the road has a net positive impact on the environment, and a 2021 study shows that hybrid workers in the United Kingdom could reduce the amount of noxious emissions by up to 10% solely by working from home [3]. This same study found that a Zoom call emitted just 0.6% of the carbon emissions generated on a typical commute, and that working from home could reduce personal carbon footprints by up to 80% [3]. 

These numbers vary from person to person, but highlight the impact that digital work can have.However, as noted by Ganga Shreedhar, Kate Laffan, and Laura M. Giurge in the Harvard Business Review, the biggest consideration for employers and remote workers is providing opportunities for sustainable education [4, 5]. This can be as easy as holding workshops on best-practice or creating supportive sustainable policies. Outside of benefitting workers’ mental health, productivity, and environmental footprint, digital work can also be a boon for businesses themselves.

Good Business Decisions

Companies can reduce their overheads related to running physical locations [6]. Following the pandemic, 7 in 10 businesses in the United States closed some or all of  their permanent locations, citing their workers’ mental health and the cost of operating a physical office space [7]. This has a direct impact on budgeting but also on the environment, with less energy required to be used on buildings, in addition to a reduction in Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions [8].  

However, embracing a hybrid or digital work environment can have further benefits. Employers offering the opportunity to work from home are more likely to retain staff, a key consideration that has been at the center of the debate of the “Great Resignation”, while younger workers from Gen Z have expressed an interest in having a choice in choosing their work environment [9]. Within the global sustainability context, maintaining a sustainable, engaged workforce is a net-positive for any business.

Another positive aspect of shifting a portion of, if not the entirety of a company online is the diversity aspect, as Tatiana Reuil explains in the World Economy Forum [10], “Embracing borderless remote work could help companies improve their talent pool. Moreover, for companies seeking to boost Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), borderless remote work can help create a truly diverse and global workforce.” 

Organizations opening themselves up to hire remote workers are not just ensuring that they will have an efficient workforce, but one that draws from a diverse background, and can help form bridges with workers in underrepresented communities [11, 12]. Embracing digital work practices can not only help your business, your workforce and their community, but also support the completion of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals [13]. Have you considered how shifting parts of your business online can drive sustainability? 

Key Takeaways:


[1] Justin Fox, 2022, “Are Workers More Productive at Home?”, Bloomberg.
[2] Rani Molla, 2022, “Tell your boss: Working from home is making you more productive”, Vox.
[3] Adi Gaskell, 2021, “How Eco-Friendly Is Remote Working?”, Forbes.
[4] Ganga Shreedhar, Kate Laffan, and Laura M. Giurge, 2022, “Is Remote Work Actually Better for the Environment?”, Harvard Business Review.
[5] Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Sustainable Change Through Education”, LEAD-WiSE.
[6] Laurel Farrer, 2020, “Remote To The Rescue: How Virtual Jobs Are Saving The World”, Forbes.
[7] Digital, 2022, “7 in 10 businesses have permanently closed office space during the pandemic”.
[8] Carbon Trust, 2022, “Briefing: What are Scope 3 emissions?”.
[9] Raisa Bruner, 2021, “Remote Work Is All Gen Z Knows. But Are They Satisfied?” Time.
[10] Tatiana Reuil, 2022, “I believe the future of remote work is borderless and inclusive — here’s how we get there”, World Economic Forum
[11] Vincent Diringer, 2020, “How virtual events drive global inclusivity”, Island Innovation.
[12] LEAD-WiSE, 2022, “About”.
[13] Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Collaboration Towards the Goals: Working Together for Sustainability”, LEAD-WiSE.

“Your generation will be essential now to lead tomorrow to be able to manage and reverse this trend and rescue the planet”, expressed United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to youth activists gathered in Lisbon for the 2022 UN Ocean Conference [1]. Far from being the first time that younger generations have encountered words to this effect, they nonetheless are addressed to a demographic who is having to deal with large-scale social turmoil, difficult working conditions, and limited capital [2, 3]. While Guterres called for rapid drastic action from the world’s youth to curb the effects of the climate crisis, younger generations are still far from reaching key decision-making positions capable of enacting widespread policy changes and feel increasingly disenfranchised by the currency political spectrum [4].

Faced with a herculean task and no clear pathway available for them to implement solutions, the deck is stacked against them – but today’s youth is adapting [5].

Force for Good

Evident in widespread global mobilizations on topics of climate change and social justice, young people are keen on getting their voice heard. Where channels or organizations were not available for them to influence politics, education, or technology, they created them. From Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future to advocacy groups such as the Sunrise Movement or ClimaTalk, young people are creating their own organizations with little to no funding. Through these initiatives they are galvanizing and mobilizing people to call for stronger political action and intend to have an influence on global decision-making [6-8].

This determination to enact change coupled with their looming dominance within the workforce makes Millennials and Gen Z a force to reckon with. These generations wish to see more change at a climate and society level than the ones before them, and as their influence grows companies should listen to what they have to say [5, 9]. Businesses are capable of being changemakers, and with global policies slowly encouraging them to shift to a sustainable business model, there is a need for more proactive action from companies [10].

Stay Ahead of the Curve

Today’s youth has shown an unprecedented level of determination to have their voice heard, when they are not in the streets protesting, they are raising awareness online, lobbying politicians for action and supporting organizations aligned with their views [5-10]. Companies and businesses seeking to have a positive impact on their community and staying ahead of the economic curve need only one thing: listen to the youth. Engagement with local youth organizations, asking them their thoughts on products, services, and where they see improvements being made will facilitate dialogue and change [11]. Today’s youth will only see their consumer power and influence grow. The impact they are having today will be magnified in the future – are you on the right side of history?

Key Takeaways


[1] United Nations, 2022, “Youth are the generation that will help save our ocean and our future, says UN chief”, UN News.
[2] Hillary Hoffower, 2021, “Gen Z was hit hardest by the pandemic”, Business Insider.
[3] Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Gen Z Challenge Status Quo”, LEAD-WiSE.
[4] Małgorzata Zachara, 2020, “The Millennial generation in the context of political power: A leadership gap?” Leadership, 16(2):241-258.
[5] Alec Tyson, Brian Kennedy and Cary Funk, 2021, “Gen Z, Millennials Stand Out for Climate Change Activism, Social Media Engagement With Issue”, Pew Research Centre.
[6] Fridays for Future, 2022, “Who We Are”, Fridays for Future.
[7] Sunrise Movement, 2022, “Sunrise’s Principles”, Sunrise Movement.
[8] ClimaTalk, 2022, “Who We Are”, ClimaTalk.
[9] Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Net-Zero: The Future of Sustainable Businesses”, LEAD-WiSE.
[10] Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Changing The Status Quo”, LEAD-WiSE.
[11] Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Sustainable Change Through Education”, LEAD-WiSE.

The youngest demographics of the workforce are already having an impact on how the job market functions. Detractors have been quick to posit that Gen Z does not want to work and are not willing to follow traditional employment practices – but, as Kathy Bloomgarden writes for the World Economic Forum [1], “This generation has a different set of priorities, caring more about flexibility, values and diversity than others that came before them. This generation cares greatly about autonomy and work-life balance — almost two-thirds of Gen Z would prefer to work for themselves in a start-up. About half report that they would quit their job if it interfered with their work-life balance.”

Working Hard (Remotely)

Considering that this generation is already experienced burnout, high levels of stress, and facing the increasing pressures of a changing climate, their decision to challenge the employment status quo is a symptom of a shift in life priorities [2-4]. Gen Z stands for values and larger societal change, the idea of working a single well-earning job in an office goes against their grain, preferring to work in a sector they’re interested in regardless of salary. As a tech-savvy generation, they value remote work and flexible employment structures – this means businesses must shift their work capacities to accommodate the incoming workforce [1-4]. 

A 2019 Deloitte study highlights how companies will need to adapt to Gen Z, and not the other way around, as organizational power transitions from management to employees [4]. This new generation is also acutely aware of the social issues facing them and future generations. Gen Zers demand widespread change and lead action on several core issues, and actively gravitate towards companies who are supporting similar causes [5, 6]. 

Social Responsibility

While Gen Zers shake up the employment sector, they also push for more social responsibility. Young consumers prioritize sustainable brands and become more adept at identifying greenwashing [7]. As such, they work towards pushing businesses to adopt a more environmentally friendly model – it is not surprising then that Gen Z have been labelled as “the most disruptive generation ever” by the Bank of America [6]. Not content with falling in line with a work-centric business as usual approach that has dictated employment and societal standards, Gen Z remodel global communities to be sustainable in more than one aspect [1, 5].

“Generations are shaped by the context in which they emerged,” explain Tracy Francis and Fernanda Hoefel [8], “For Generation Z, the main spur to consumption is the search for truth, in both a personal and a communal form. Its search for authenticity generates greater freedom of expression and greater openness to understanding different kinds of people. The influence of Gen Z—the first generation of true digital natives—is now radiating outward, with the search for truth at the centre of its characteristic behaviour and consumption patterns.” The status quo is changing with Gen Z at the helm – are you open to facilitating a sustainable future?

Key Takeaways


[1] Kathy Bloomgarden, 2022, “Gen Z and the end of work as we know it”, World Economic Forum.
[2] Andrea Yu, 2022, “Why Gen Z workers are already so burned out”, BBC.
[3] Terry Nguyen, 2022, “Gen Z does not dream of labor”, Vox.
[4] Karianne Gomez, Tiffany Mawhinney & Kimberly Betts, 2019, “Understanding Generation Z in the workplace”, Deloitte.
[5] Greg Petro, 2021, “Gen Z Is Emerging As The Sustainability Generation”, Forbes.
[6] Johnny Wood, 2022, “Gen Z cares about sustainability more than anyone else – and is starting to make others feel the same”, World Economic Forum
[7] Vincent Diringer, 2022, “Greenwashing within the Global Business Context”, LEAD-WiSE.
[8] Tracy Francis & Fernanda Hoefel, 2018, “‘True Gen’: Generation Z and its implications for companies” McKinsey.

The scale of the climate crisis can seem overwhelming as entire nations seek to decarbonise their economies, enact sustainable development goals, while environmental degradation is being recorded globally. For everyday consumers, the sheer size of the issue can make it too daunting to tackle as an individual – yet they can absolutely have an impact. Sustainability starts at home, and businesses have an important role in helping their communities adapt [1].

Think globally, act locally

From providing services that encourage sustainable habits – such as the 7 Rs (Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Repurpose, Reuse, Repair, Recycle) – or finding opportunities to unite stakeholders to promote a message, businesses of any size can be a part of the movement [2]. Globally, consumers are already interested in becoming more sustainable, but have indicated a lack of opportunity or knowledge as the reason they have yet to change their behaviour [3]. Here exists a chance for sustainable-minded businesses to become a part of the global transition to a low-carbon future. Purpose-filled companies following a progressive agenda that adapts to market trends will ensure that they are ahead of their competition and become a part of the transition [4, 5].

Consumer-based approach

Consumers are more aware than ever of the impact their choices and that of the companies they support have on the environment [3, 5]. As global governments shift towards a low-carbon economic framework there has also been a shift to take into account consumer needs and wants when it comes to sustainability [6]. As Bart de Smet points out for the World Economic Forum, consumer power can scale change, and businesses have the opportunity to bring on that change by providing and promoting sustainable alternatives while leveraging consumers’ insights and knowledge for action [4]. 

The future is low-carbon and will be built on the foundations set by companies that were willing to encourage sustainability in everyday life and provide opportunities for their communities. Climate change is happening. The transition towards a circular society is underway – so why delay adapting to a sustainable business model [7]? 

Key takeaways:


[1] Kate Bassett, 2021, “Sustainability begins at home: how to live a lower-carbon lifestyle”, Financial Times.
[2] James Ellsmoor, 2019, “Environmental Education Will Shape A New Generation Of Decision-Makers”, Forbes.
[3] Southern Cross University, 2019, “Going Green”, Southern Cross University.
[4] Bart de Smet, 2022, “Closing the ‘say-do gap’: How businesses can help consumers build sustainable habits”, World Economic Forum.
[5] Deloitte, 2021 “The Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey”, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.
[6] J.N. Sheth, N.K Sethia, & S. Srinivas, 2011, “Mindful consumption: a customer-centric approach to sustainability”, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 39, pp. 21-39
[7] Vincent Diringer, 2022, “The Importance of Sustainable Business Models”, LEAD-WiSE.

An excerpt from Forbes by Ashley Stahl – a Forbes Contributor

As a millennial who has had the opportunity to work with Gen-Zers, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers, I used to wonder if we made too much about the difference in attitudes between the generations. 

It seems like these days so many articles want to focus on these differences between generations. I feel like every time I go to my feed, it’s always “Baby Boomers this” or “Millennials that.” 

…But are we really all that different than our older or younger counterparts?

Well, in some important ways, we’re not so different. We all want the same things when you come down to it: happiness, fulfillment, appreciation, security. These are all universal goals that most of us share. 

But when it comes to certain values, attitudes and expectations, there may be some significant differences in how members of different generations approach their lives, especially in the space of work. 

A few years ago, I started to work with my first clients from Gen-Z who were entering the workforce. And I must say that to my surprise, many of my Gen-Z clients expressed very different attitudes about their careers then their Millennial, or even Gen-X counterparts.

The more I’ve worked with Gen-Z clients and observed the impact that their ideas and expectations are having on the world of work, the more I realized that this generation was shaking up business culture and work as we know it.

So what are the changes that Gen-Z is expecting, or initiating, in the world of work? Here are a few major ways in which Gen-Z workers are changing the game. 

Before we dive in, let’s establish the boundaries around which most people define these generations. 

Baby Boomers usually refers to the post-World War II generation, born between 1946 and 1964. Generation-X represents people born between 1965 and 1979 or 1980. Generation-Y, most often referred to as Millennials, span the birth years of 1981–1997. Anyone born between 1997 and 2012 is considered a member of Gen-Z, although certain data sets extend this to 2015. 

Generation Alpha is most often said to include anyone born between 2010 and 2025. These generational parameters overlap and generally vary depending on the source.

Obviously, Generation Alpha is a long way from the workforce, but stay tuned in 15 years for my hot take on Gen-A’s workforce preferences! 

Gen-Z’s expectations in the workplace are values-driven and aligned with their personal morals

If you’re like me and you are routinely shocked to find out that a person who you once held as an infant recently graduated from college, it may be difficult to imagine Gen-Z having a major impact on the workforce. But think again. Data shows that by 2025, Gen-Z workers will make up 27% of the workforce. 

One major way in which Gen-Z workers are distinguishing their preferences from those of other generations is with a very values-driven approach to their careers and job prospects. 

Spend five minutes on Twitter these days, and you’ll likely find someone accusing a member of Gen-Z of being “too woke.” But say what you will about the way many “Zoomers” chose to express their politics online, they are willing to back it up in their choices when it comes to the job market.  

A telling article in the New York Times describes the “Techlash” on college campuses, detailing the difficulty that many with the tech sector had in attracting Gen-Z talent in the recruitment process. 

Just a few years ago, an offer from a tech company was considered something of a “Golden ticket” for Millennial job seekers, promising high salaries and over-the-top office culture and benefits. In contrast, many members of Gen-Z seem to be put off by negative perceptions of the tech industry and the growing concern about the ethics of certain practices within the tech world. 

While these sentiments are being expressed openly by certain members of Gen-Z in the workforce, they seem to reflect a broader shift in the way people view the technology sector. A Pew Research study found that the percentage of Americans who felt that the Tech industry had a positive impact on society dropped substantially from 71% in 2015 to 50% in 2019. 

For some members of Gen-Z, the desire to evaluate companies based on a set of moral standards seems to extend beyond preferences in the workplace and impact the consumer choices of Gen-Z as well. A survey found that 51% of Gen-Z consumers would ensure that a brand was aligned with their own values before making a purchase. 

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2021/05/04/how-gen-z-is-bringing-a-fresh-perspective-to-the-world-of-work/

A report by Deloitte

A new generation has arrived. Gen Z will soon surpass Millennials as the most populous generation on earth, with more than one-third of the world’s population counting themselves Gen Zers.

Its members are about to step onto the world stage, entering the workforce and spending money on the products, services and solutions that you produce, provide and create.

In this report, we look at the factors that have gone into shaping Gen Z, demographic shifts taking place in the US that will affect Gen Z’s entry into the workforce, Gen Z behaviors and attitudes and their view toward work, the future of work and what it means to organizations and employers seeking to entice and integrate Gen Z into the workplace.

More information: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/consumer-business/welcome-to-gen-z.pdf