Delivering sustainability to engage the next generation

Getting hiring right is critical for any successful business. In the UK, the skills crisis is currently estimated at £63bn a year, making it more important than ever for businesses to make themselves as attractive as possible to survive and thrive. Within this challenging environment, businesses can look to sustainability to give them a competitive edge.

At the heart of futureproofing and boosting talent is hiring and more importantly, retaining, the next generation of workers. More often than not, millennials are drawn to companies that share their ethics. Studies have shown that nearly nine in 10 would take a pay cut to work for a company whose values align with their own.

Sustainability is a top priority for young workers, indeed nearly 40% of millennials have chosen a job because of a company’s sustainability policy. By focusing on this issue, companies can start to re-engage with younger workers.

Create a realistic plan and deliver

The next generation is attracted to working with organisations that have ambitious sustainability goals, and a clear roadmap for delivering. But, if a company is just playing lip service to sustainability, they can run the risk of ‘greenwashing’, and undermining any efforts that have been made. By creating a realistic roadmap to sustainability and committing to delivering, companies will generate goodwill, ensuring they become a more attractive proposition for employees.

Companies that exist in a purely reactive state, responding only to demand or bad press, can leave themselves open to criticism; instead, it is better to get on the front foot and put sustainability at the heart of the business and its processes. If sustainability can be introduced as a genuine core business goal, companies will reap the benefits.

James Pittick, Sustainability Lead, Canon UK

At Canon we closely follow the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). These 17 goals align with our corporate philosophy of Kyosei and help guide our wider strategy and policies. The SDGs are a blueprint to follow, helping companies work towards a better and more sustainable future by addressing key global challenges.

Aligning with third party goals help to highlight the commitment a company makes, showing that it is an issue of concern across all levels of the business. Other sustainability steps a company could follow include incorporating the principles of the circular economy, helping businesses to eliminate waste and boost green credentials.

Engage and listen

Young people have taken the lead on sustainability. And, whilst Greta Thunberg has appeared as a figurehead, environmentalism has been an international youth-led movement with large protests being led by school children and other young people. This wave of energy is not something to be feared but instead incorporated into the efforts companies are already making to become more sustainable businesses.

Having an engagement plan that creates an opportunity for buy-in and contribution from staff is a key element to delivering on sustainability goals. By working with HR to build out a process for new and young employees, businesses can look to utilise this passion and enthusiasm.

The impetus for change can come from new recruits. Companies can create initiatives on a monthly or quarterly basis where employees can supply new ideas. Good ideas can come from anywhere, and by providing an outlet for this, the business will show it is listening and engaged in the drive to offer low carbon solutions with the aim of reaching net zero. The passion of new hires can and should be listened to and offered a platform.

Now is the time for the technology and wider corporate world to acknowledge, engage and listen to young people. By harnessing this passion and energy, businesses can drive change.


James Pittick

Sustainability Lead, Canon UK


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