How Young People are Changing CSR for the Better

27. February 2019 Cause Marketing, CSR 0

Young adults working on their technology devices outside.

Guest post by Mark Roberts, CEO of Conscious Creatives

The ideological gap between baby boomers and millennials continues to grow. While one blames the other for ruining the economy and planet, the other makes accusations of entitlement.

Whichever side of the age bracket you fall on, it’s clear that younger generations are hungry for change. And to prevent complete climate breakdown, the world needs it.

The old way doesn’t work anymore

A recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that we have just 12 years to limit global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The alternative is worldwide climate catastrophe. If we miss that target, the consequences could be dire.

But there’s reason to be positive! In a  survey from SurveyMonkey, 35% of consumers said they’d spend more on a product that is better for the environment. Among millennials, that number rises to almost 75%. The good news is both figures are likely to grow in the coming years.

Last year in the U.K., ethical spending hit a massive <£81.3 billion. Consumers are more eager to choose ethical products and make more informed decisions than before. Catering for ethical consumers is no longer an ideological decision — it’s now the most sensible economic choice.

What are young people really looking for?

In one word, authenticity. This has almost become a buzzword in the industry, but it’s the truth. We know that millennials, in particular, are far more likely to research a company’s sustainability practices. If you deceive them, be sure that they will take to social media to out you.

When applying for jobs, millennials are seeking purpose. Something that goes beyond conventional ladder progression and a paycheck. I do believe that most people are looking for purpose, and it’s just this new generation that is vocalizing it for the first time.

Reconsidering the word ‘investment’ is appropriate here too. It’s more than money — it’s about legacy. The starkest difference is between someone who is happy working a job they put up with and someone who goes to work looking to tell their grandkids stories about how they changed the world.

People born after 1980 are far more likely to consider taking a job as an investment of their time and they need to feel good about making that decision.

While the housing market is making it very difficult for first-time buyers, millennial money has to be invested somewhere. There’s a general trend for socially responsible investing, or social investment — and among young people, it’s going to be huge.

More than half of all investors prefer to invest in companies that make the world a better place. And a further 56% of millennial investors put their money in ethical funds as a result of climate-related disasters in the news.

So young people are not only more likely to support ethical retailers on the high street — they’re also putting their long-term financial trust in responsible companies.

How can you apply this to your CSR projects?

The first step is creating a diverse team to work on your corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects. It is possible for campaigns to go wrong and actually cause damage to your brand. I believe this comes from a lack of diversity of opinions and points of view.

When you don’t consider all the angles then you stand a higher risk of failing. Diversity in the workplace is a huge problem and your CSR team and their projects is a fantastic place to start.

Allow this team to slowly create a new narrative and positioning for your company’s sustainable efforts. The best companies, when it comes to CSR, are those that integrate it into their entire brand rather than leaving it just with the project.

If you are looking for an easy way to get started then we always recommend you offset your carbon emissions and work towards neutrality. We understand that creating sustainability is a long-term process that requires a lot of time and resources to achieve. If you can’t change your processes immediately then simply paying off the carbon you’ve used is an easy start.

For personal and small business offsets, I’d recommend and for larger corporations then Eco-Act is the one to choose. Both of these organizations make it easy for you to get started on your sustainability journey.

If you are looking to make a more in-depth CSR project then the work between VICE and Evian — VICE Impact — is a good example to follow. While neither of these companies is perfect and have issues of their own, it does show the power of brands taking on the mantle of leading the world to a more sustainable future. Your business can follow suit.

Author bio: Mark Roberts is CEO of Conscious Creatives, a sustainable marketing agency that believes the old way of doing business is over. They produce branding and digital communications for socially responsible businesses that deliver long-term revenue with sustainability at heart.

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