Employers’ and workforces’ environmental values unaligned, survey finds

Majority feel their organisation could be doing more on climate change, with two-thirds saying they’d turn down a job to this end

The majority of employees do not believe their companies’ values on sustainability and climate change align with their own, a report has found.

More than eight in 10 (83 per cent) of 2,000 UK employees surveyed in August by Censuswide for Unily said they believed their employer was either not doing enough or could be doing more to combat climate change. Just 11 per cent said they felt their company was doing enough.

Similarly, 80 per cent said their employer’s environmental values were either only partially aligned or not at all aligned with their own.

The report warned this could have implications for future hiring. Almost two-thirds of those surveyed (65 per cent) said they were more likely to work for a firm that had strong environmental values, while 64 per cent said they would turn down a job offer from a company that had a bad environmental reputation.

It also found high demand from employees to learn more about their companies’ environmental values and goals. More than half (58 per cent) of respondents said they wanted more information on this, while 46 per cent said they wanted specific training on these.

There was also significant appetite for acquiring ‘green skills’, with 63 per cent reporting they would like to learn more about making environmental impact assessments, environmental management, and other general expertise around sustainable business methods that would help them become more valuable to their workplace. 

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These skills, the report said, would support the growth of ‘green jobs’, including in the number of chief sustainability officers – a board-level position already created by some organisations, including Hewlett-Packard and Nike.

Earlier this year, a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) called on the government to prioritise the creation of green jobs as part of the coronavirus recovery, estimating that investment in green and low-carbon industries could create 1.6 million new jobs after the outbreak had ended.

“The Covid crisis is an unprecedented disruption of the labour market,” said Carsten Jung, senior economist at the IPPR. “Even as the economy reopens, many furloughed workers might not be able to return to their old jobs. Concerted investment by the government, businesses and households can generate employment in new future-proof sectors.”

Jo Skilton, chief commercial officer at Unily, added that coronavirus had been a “real catalyst” for business change. “We have spoken to many companies over the years, keen to change how they work, but they have never ‘had to’ change before, so Covid-19 has accelerated that need,” she said.