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20% of young people refuse to work for non-‘climate friendly’ employers, says survey

51% would accept lower salary to work for compliant companies

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February 05, 2023

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06:42 AM

20% of young people refuse to work for non-‘climate friendly’ employers, says survey

A recent survey found that one in five young people have refused job offers from companies that do not comply with ESG guidelines.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) is a form of grading companies and countries — and soon people, experts warn — based on how well they conform to utopian ideology on environmental and social issues. For example, the more “environmentally friendly” or “racially inclusive” a company purports to be, the more virtuous it is and thus more worthy of investment. If a company’s ESG score is below certain thresholds, they are not to be invested in at all. 

ESG ideology, which has come to mostly refer to environmentalism and “climate change," dictates that a company’s profits must sometimes take a backseat to saving the weather.

The accounting firm KPMG polled 6,000 people in the UK who belong to the Millennial generation or younger and found that nearly half (46%) want their employers to conform to ESG dicta, while 20% have refused a job offer outright from employers who are not compliant enough. The number rose with 18-24-year-old respondents, a third of whom have refused such offers.

One in three respondents reported researching a company’s ESG compliance before seeking employment there, and nearly half mark environmental impact and living wage policies as important factors in the recruitment process.

KPMG’s Head of ESG John McCalla-Leacy said younger people “will see the greater impacts if we fail to reach this target” and are therefore demanding ESG compliance.

The survey matches with another from Yale University, which found that 51% of students would take a lower salary to work at an ESG-compliant company, while 26% would not accept a job at a non-“climate friendly’ company no matter how high the salary.

A 2021 preprint study of 10,000 people 16-25 years old found that 84% are “at least moderately worried” about climate change, with 59% “very or extremely worried.” 

“Over 50% felt sad, anxious, angry, powerless, helpless, and guilty,” says The Lancet study’s authors. “Over 45% said their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning, and many reported a high number of negative thoughts about climate change.” 

The anxiety over “climate change” experienced by young people has been termed “eco-anxiety,” an ailment from which two-thirds of Americans suffer, according to an APA study published in 2020.

Eco-anxiety may be becoming an industry of its own.

A new course that began in November at the University of East Anglia (UAE) called “Mindfulness and Active Hope” aims to “help students cope with eco-anxiety, cultivate self-care, and understand how to transform their fear and grief on issues like climate change." The course is the first of its kind in the UK. 

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