Firms associated with slave labour and pollution miss out on talented career movers

Employers with a blemished record on ethical issues will miss out on much sought after ‘Generation S’ talent, a study has revealed.

As issues such as slave labour and environmental pollution have moved up the agenda for consumers and politicians, highly qualified career movers, dubbed Generation S - for sustainability - are shunning jobs at organisations with poor ethical records.

Research by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), conducted with more than 1,000 of its members, found that environmentally friendly and sustainability-focused roles are becoming the career change jobs of choice.

It found that more than two-fifths (42 per cent) of professionals who now work in these roles consider themselves “career changers”.

Generation S are most frequently in their mid-thirties, equally split between men and women, and hold above-average qualifications (45 per cent had a masters degree or doctorate).

The survey found Generation S would refuse to work for an employer with a record of using slave labour (39 per cent), generating high levels of pollution (37 per cent), employing unsafe working conditions (48 per cent), poor environmental performance (53 per cent), or with questionable investments and unethical practices (56 per cent).

More than a third said they were concerned about the negative impact some industries and organisations have on the environment.

In addition, 90 per cent of IEMA members who have moved to a more ethical employer reported high levels of career satisfaction.

The study showed that people moving into these roles come from a wide variety of backgrounds including finance, operations, marketing and communications, and research and development.

Tim Balcon, CEO of IEMA, said: "Employers who don’t have a sound reputation for good environment and sustainability performance are missing out on the pick of the crop, whether they are new graduates or career movers."

He added that these individuals were looking for employers that offered "opportunities to advance their career in a role that can make a positive difference to the planet, the economy and society".

More than a third said they had high levels of job satisfaction because they had a career in which they could make a difference (35 per cent). A further 28 per cent said their position offered a lot of variety, while 59 per cent said their roles were challenging.

“Environment and sustainability roles are rewarding careers – with high job satisfaction levels. With the economy becoming increasingly dependent on environment and sustainability skills, it’s great to see that many who boast these skills are enjoying their roles to such a high level. The new skills and people that are entering the profession have a vital role to play in enhancing and supporting business action in this area," Balcon added.