A survey by Prospects at Jisc shows that the majority of graduates want to make a difference in people's lives, favouring companies with sustainable policies that they can get involved in
The Prospects Sustainability survey shows how an interest in sustainable development is having an impact on young people's employment decisions.
The majority (91%) of more than 1,000 graduates who responded to the survey reported that it was important that their job enables them to make a difference in people's lives. A further 86% said it was vital that the company they work for has a positive environmental impact and 85% said it was important that a company has sustainable practices.
Overall, the survey showed that a company's sustainable practices could help attract and retain young people. Three-quarters said that they would be more likely to apply to a company with strong sustainable practices and two-thirds said that they would stay longer in a job if they knew it had a positive impact on sustainability.
Moreover, when asked what they would do if they discovered that a company they were working for didn't make sustainable choices, the majority (71%) said that they would raise the issue with management and try to make a positive difference. That might be by influencing policy or making more sustainable choices within their role in the hope of influencing their colleagues.
On the other hand, more than a quarter (28%) said that they would look for a new job.
Only one in ten respondents said that they would do nothing. For some, this stemmed from a lack of concern for sustainability, but others expressed feelings of powerlessness, suggesting that they would like to take a stance in such a situation but might fear repercussions.
The survey showed that it is important that graduate employers don't just show support for the principles of sustainable development, but that words are backed by accountable actions.
Nearly three-quarters (72%) of the graduates surveyed felt that job adverts should include an employer's sustainable policies.
Half (52%) said that they have looked at a company's sustainability plan or corporate social responsibility policy when looking for a job, and of those, 59% said that they did further research into the company's sustainable practices to verify that they were actually being proactive in this regard.
Although younger respondents were more likely to say that they had looked at a company's sustainability plan when looking for a job, older respondents were more likely to follow up and do further research into the company's sustainable practices.
Chris Rea, careers expert at Prospects for Jisc, said, 'Evidence of a strong commitment to sustainable practice is increasingly important for both the attraction and retention of graduates.
'Young people are acutely aware of environmental and social challenges, and we're seeing evidence of this spill over into their employment choices and decisions. This interest in sustainable development is wider than those pursuing direct careers into environmental or sustainable jobs. Whatever their chosen career path, young people want to work for companies that can demonstrate they are making a difference and have the opportunity to get involved.'