Today is Earth Day, one of the most important internationally celebrated environmental events of the year. It’s a day dedicated to increasing awareness and appreciation of our planet.
In addition to all of the important things we need to do to improve the environment and build a better, more sustainable future for our children, corporations should be highly involved too. Once the province of liberal-leaning politicians and activists, others are becoming actively interested in working toward saving and improving the environment. The conversation around climate change has even made its way to the rarified lush boardrooms of Wall Street. BlackRock, the money management behemoth, advised its investors that we—as inhabitants of this earth—cannot “afford to ignore” the economic risks attendant with climate change. These sentiments were echoed by top-tier investment bank Morgan Stanley. The bank warned that climate-related disasters will continue to escalate and could cause future damages, in excess of $54 trillion.
Aside from the dire consequences of inaction toward improving the environmental quality of our planet, corporate executives need to know that it’s smart business practices. I’m not referring to stores and restaurant chains forgoing plastic bags and straws. Corporate executives need to wholeheartedly embrace and lead the charge—for their own self-interests as well.
Younger generations place value in climate control and the environment as an important part of their lives. Unlike older generations, they look at their careers in a different, more holistic way. Millennials and Gen-Z people seek a meaningful career with a reasonable work-life balance. They are not as caught up in the superficial trappings of so-called success, like Baby Boomers. When they select what corporations to work for, the company’s ethics and commitment to social causes (such as the environment) are of paramount importance to them. They desire to work at companies that share the same values as they possess.
It makes prudent business sense for senior corporate executives to embrace causes, not only because it is a good thing to do, but because it will attract the type of people they want to work for them—those that are smart, socially conscious, committed and ethical. If you are a CEO, who would you rather have on your team: a humanitarian who cares and is passionate about making positive changes in the world or someone who just wants a paycheck and couldn’t care less about the products and services being offered and their effects on people?
By having an eco-friendly corporate mission, companies will appeal to the best and brightest of the upcoming generations. It will make the companies much more competitive by gaining these talented individuals.
Please don’t interpret this as the bashing of Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. Times change and ideas evolve. As a Gen-Xer myself, I can admit that we care, but are not as woke as the other generations.
And to Millennials and Gen-Z people, I would say you need to focus on your career, hone your skills and become an expert in your space. Once you join a company, you have to deliver results. It’s fine to promote change from within, but you need to recognize that you have to add value to the company as well.
Hopefully, Earth Day is the perfect time for corporations to start thinking about change and how taking proactive steps will entice high-quality people to join them. This will be a win-win for our planet and every inhabitant of it.