New research into the views of Generation Z on business and sustainability shows this first post-Millennium generation want businesses to get involved in making the world a better place, and will reward them for doing so. Nearly three quarters of those surveyed (74%) agreed that businesses have a responsibility to create a better world.
Significantly, Generation Z doesn’t see businesses’ involvement in social or environmental causes as something to be done outside of the day job or in some separate function. 77% believed that businesses should make ‘doing good’ a central part of their business, and nearly six in ten (62%) that it is OK for business to make a profit out of making the world a better place.
“This is a globally aware, highly informed generation who are comfortable with businesses turning a profit in fulfilling their responsibility to create a better world,” says Andy Last, CEO at salt communications who commissioned the research. “They see this responsibility as core to business, and that turning it into an opportunity to drive growth is what can make commitments sustainable. Generation Z has grown up with a closer connection to issues in other parts of the world and sees the connection between these global issues and the choices they make at home.”
Underlining their overall view that business and sustainability are connected, 59% said they would go out of their way to buy products and services from businesses they know are helping to create a better world, and 45% went as far as to say that in choosing a job, they would rank working for a company that helps make the world a better place as important a consideration as salary.
Andy Last comments: “Technology breeds transparency and it’s easy for these digital natives to research, reflect and respond to the impact that brands and businesses have on the world and how they can contribute towards making it better. Generation Z is hyper-aware of businesses’ views on and actions around sustainability and the research shows that increasingly they will vote with their feet with the jobs they take and the products they buy.”
As well as being socially aware and business savvy, this generation also shows itself unsurprisingly as highly attuned to filtering the messages they receive. When asked which sort of information they trust the most when businesses talk about sustainability, 68% ranked journalist comments in their top three most trusted sources, followed by messages on packaging (58%) and from employees interviews (46%). The least trusted sources of information were what businesses say on their Facebook page (12%), Twitter (18%), and online forums (37%).
“Increased business literacy among young people, driven by greater access to information, makes it more and more difficult for companies to get away with what are seen as irresponsible practices, particularly when these practices are seen to impact negatively on the global issues that matter to them. It is never too early to begin looking at and thinking about ways to engage Generation Z, a generation who are about to become today’s shoppers, workers and voters,” Andy Last concludes.
The young people were asked what ‘a better world’ meant to them by considering a series of issues facing the world and selecting the most important to them. The most important issues for them in order to create a better world were world peace (which 51% placed in their top three issues), an end to global poverty (40%), and everyone having access to water and sanitation (41%).