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Climate Quitters: How Can Companies Rise to the Challenge?

What is climate quitting? How are ‘green considerations’ affecting the job market? And how can the adoption of an ESG framework help to attract and retain employees?
Someone placing belongings into cardboard box

Climate quitting is a newly coined term, but the practice of it is something that’s been increasing in recent years as the severity of the climate crisis becomes more apparent. It describes the situation where employees are actively leaving their job or rejecting an employment offer where they consider that the employer’s ESG (environment, social and governance) commitment isn’t hitting the mark. 

👉 In this article we’ll explore what climate quitting actually means, how ‘green considerations’ are affecting the job market, and how the adoption of an ESG framework can help companies to attract and retain employees.

What does climate quitting mean?

Climate quitting is a new trend that we’re seeing across the job market whereby people are actively choosing to leave their jobs to switch into more environmentally friendly ones, or jobs that actively combat climate change. 

So what has brought this about? Well, it's been catalysed by growing awareness of the climate crisis. As we continue to see the increased effects of climate change, with more frequent heat waves, wildfires, and increased episodes of drought and flooding, more and more people are coming to the realisation that they need to do more in the fight against climate change, something that even extends to their professions. Climate quitters are actively leaving their jobs on account of environmental consideration and are changing the dynamics of the job market in the process. 

employees giving each other a fist bump

The green job market

Climate change presents obvious risks, and the effects are undeniably negative for the world and our environment. However, alongside these negative effects are also opportunities. As we work towards reducing global greenhouse gas emissions there is opportunity for the creation of jobs. It’s estimated that as many as 24 million jobs could be created across the world by 2030 as part of the fight against climate change. The UK Government itself has stated that it aims to create 440,000 new jobs in green industries by 2030. 

In fact we’re already seeing the impact of this trend: in 2022, more people were employed by clean energy companies than by fossil fuel companies! A 2022 Linkedin survey also found that advertisements for green jobs have increased at around 8% year on year since 2015. 

However, there’s a bit of a gap when it comes to uptake of green jobs, with so-called ‘green talent’ only increasing by 6% annually over the same period of time. 

Thankfully, we’re starting to see a shift amongst the attitudes of job seekers and even those who are already employed. Recent research by accounting firm KPMG has found that 20% of UK office workers have turned down a job based on environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations, and as much as half of employees actively want their employers to pursue ESG commitments. 

A Yale study even found that 51% of respondents would accept a lower salary if it meant that they could work for an environmentally friendly company. 

What research is showing us is that we’re beginning to see a clear shift in attitudes across the job sector. This is good news for environmental companies and businesses, but should represent real cause for concern when it comes to companies who have no environmental commitments in place. 

👉 It’s worth noting that the trend is mostly being driven by younger workers and millennials with those ages 25 to 34 the most likely to consider ESG (environmental, social and governance) values when it comes to looking for a new role. This is something that employers need to take note of, because by 2025, as much as 75% of the working population will be millennials. Companies will need to consider their environmental, social and governance commitments if they want to attract and retain talent. 

colleagues looking at computer screen

Why is climate quitting a problem?

Climate quitting is a significant threat to a company's recruitment. If a company can’t attract top talent on account of its ESG considerations it’s going to significantly lose out, and all aspects of the businesses operations will suffer as a result of its decreased talent pool. 

Not only this, but if a company is also losing existing talent as well, then it’s going to have to spend additional time and resources to train-up and onboard new employees. Retention of existing employees saves companies both time and money. 

How can companies prevent climate quitting?

With these changing trends amongst those searching for jobs, and ‘climate quitting’ becoming more commonplace amongst those who are already employed, how can companies attract new talent and keep the talent that they’ve already got? 

Companies need to focus on their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) values. 

Let’s start by defining what exactly we mean by this by going into each of the elements in a little bit more detail.

The E in ESG

The E in ESG stands for environmental factors. It includes a company's energy consumption, their carbon emissions, the resources it uses and the waste it produces. These are elements that companies can longer afford to ignore.

Reporting requirements in the UK with regards to a company's emissions and environmental impact are already becoming commonplace, but even where a company is not required by law to consider these factors, it should be looking to take steps to calculate its carbon footprint and environmental impact and then to implement changes to reduce these. 

The S in ESG

The S stands for social criteria and represents the relationship between the company and the communities and people who are impacted by the operations of the business. This encompasses considerations such as diversity and inclusiveness, which are also factors that potential employees look at when considering an employment offer.

The G in ESG

G stands for governance, which is the systems, controls and procedures adopted by a company to govern its operations, take decisions and to comply with legal requirements and stakeholder expectations.

work meeting with employees looking over data

Why is ESG more than a marketing exercise?

It’s worth noting that each of these elements (ESG) are interconnected and overlap one another. For example environmental considerations will often overlap with governance where companies are subject to environmental laws and regulations, and social criteria will often overlap with environmental consideration as well. 

👉 If a company wants to future proof itself when it comes to employee retention then it is going to have to be proactive when it comes to action on ESG factors. ESG is much more than a trend or a simple ‘marketing’ exercise. Companies need to go the extra mile. Greenwashing and surface level actions are not enough. Employees and clients alike can see right through these kinds of practices. 

But if employee retention and attraction doesn’t do enough to convince you, let’s take a closer look at the other advantages of an ESG framework below.

ESG advantages

In addition to preventing ‘climate quitting’ and attracting new talent, companies should also consider the adoption of an ESG framework for the following reasons:  

Competitive advantage

ESG values can do wonders when it comes to strengthening a company’s brand. Where employers have made real efforts to reduce their carbon footprint, promote diversity, improve working conditions, and reduce their impact on the environment, the impact goes beyond those who immediately benefit from these actions. It can result in a strong competitive advantage when it comes to attracting customers and employees alike, offering a company an advantage over competitors who might be further behind when it comes to ESG values. 

Attracting investors

In addition to attracting customers and employees, ESG values can also help attract investors. Recent studies have found that almost 50% of investors are interested in sustainable investment funds. These are funds where investment goes towards businesses that are sustainable and doing their part to improve the environment and world around them.

More sustainable company operations

Implementing an ESG framework can also benefit a company in a number of practical ways. For example, even if a company doesn’t have to legally adopt any ESG practices, this is unlikely to stay that way in the long run. Therefore companies who take the initiative themselves will be ahead of the game when regulations of laws are finally enacted. 

ESG also represents a cost saving opportunity for companies. Many of the practices that fall under ESG (for example energy saving activities, reduction of waste etc) actually save companies money in the long run.

happy employees standing with their arm around each other smiling

Looking forward

The job market is changing and there’s no denying the impact that climate change is having on the employment sector. Companies who resist this change are fighting a losing battle.

Whether it’s the legal and regulatory requirements that eventually catch up with them, the loss of customers and brand reputation, or the fact that they struggle to attract and retain employees,  the bottom line is that companies across the board need to change if they want to survive.

Businesses need to take responsibility for their role in the climate crisis and take measures to reduce their impact on the environment. This means adopting an ESG framework that ensures environmental and social considerations are adopted into every aspect of their businesses operations. Only by doing so - and in an effective and transparent manner - will they be able to future proof their business for the changes that are coming. 

What about Greenly? 

At Greenly we can help you to assess your company’s carbon footprint, and then give you the tools you need to cut down on emissions. Why not request a free demo with one of our experts - no obligation or commitment required. 

If reading this article has inspired you to consider your company’s own carbon footprint, Greenly can help. Learn more about Greenly’s carbon management platform here.

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Yellow logo that reads, "time to change"

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