Conscious quitters: Why are more people than ever willing to leave their job over climate inaction?

A third of employees say they would quit over climate inaction.
A third of employees say they would quit over climate inaction. Copyright Unsplash
By Rosie Frost
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The sentiment is even stronger among young people suggesting the trend could continue to grow.

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A growing number of people are taking into account the climate commitments of the companies they work for. 

The trend of employees walking away from firms that fail to showcase strong values has been dubbed 'conscious quitting'. 

A recent survey from consulting company KPMG of 6,000 office staff, students apprentices and recent university leavers looked at their attitudes to work.

It found that 20 per cent of them had turned down job offers because they thought a company’s environmental, social and governance factors didn’t match their own. This percentage was much higher for those aged 18-24.

A different study from last year also found a third of UK employees were willing to quit their jobs if their employer didn't take action to reduce or eliminate their carbon footprint. The figures come from a survey of 2,000 UK office workers carried out by Supercritical - a platform that helps companies to measure, reduce, and offset their climate impact.

This sentiment was even stronger among Gen Z with over half of 18 to 24-year-olds saying they would be willing to leave a company based on its net-zero credentials.

“Businesses can no longer get away with changing or scrapping their sustainability initiatives at the drop of a hat,” says Michelle You, co-founder and CEO of Supercritical.

“Employees are demanding more and employers are being held to account. Those that want to attract and retain top talent must start seeing climate action as a non-negotiable or risk being left behind.”

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Workers are concerned about the climate credentials of the company they work for.Pexels

How much do people want to work at climate-conscious companies?

It reflects a bigger trend in the workforce of people looking to work for firms with strong values - especially among young people. 

In a post on LinkedIn, former Unilever chief executive Paul Polman says many people “crave jobs that offer fulfilment, in companies which are trying to fix the world’s problems rather than create them.”

Polman was discussing the findings of the first-ever Net Positive Employee Barometer - a survey of more than 4,000 workers in the US and UK.

A majority of people in the UK were not currently satisfied with their employer's efforts to improve societal wellbeing and the environment. More than 75 per cent said public-facing efforts to tackle social and environmental issues were key when choosing jobs to apply for.

When it came to conscious quitting, 45 per cent claimed they would consider resigning from their position if a company’s corporate values didn’t align with their own.

“We are living through an unprecedented moment in human history; a time of “perma-crisis”, where pandemics, war, global warming, economic turmoil and social division are, in varying degrees, threatening our stability and future,” Polman wrote.

“Younger employees especially fear for the world they will inherit.”

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