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Most millennials would take a pay cut to work at a environmentally responsible company

Nearly 40% of millennials have chosen a job because of company sustainability. Less than a quarter of gen X respondents said the same, and 17% of baby boomers.

Most millennials would take a pay cut to work at a environmentally responsible company
[Image: VLPA/iStock]

If you’d be willing to accept a smaller salary to work for a company that’s environmentally responsible, you’re not alone. In a recent survey, nearly half of all respondents and three-quarters of millennial workers said the same thing; more than 10% of workers said they’d be willing to go as far as to take a $5,000-$10,000 pay cut.

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The survey, which was the result of conversations with 1,000 employees at large U.S. companies, echoed the findings of some similar research in the past. More than 70% said that they were more likely to choose to work at a company with a strong environmental agenda. Millennials–who will make up three-quarters of the workforce in six years–are most likely to have done this; nearly 40% said that they’ve chosen a job in the past because the company performed better on sustainability than the alternative. Less than a quarter of gen X respondents said the same, and only 17% of baby boomers.

Nearly 70% of respondents said that if a company had a strong sustainability plan, it would affect their decision to stay with that company long term. More than a third said that they’ve given more time and effort to a job because of their employer’s sustainability agenda. Another 30% said that they’ve left a job in the past because of the company’s lack of a sustainability plan. The majority said that sustainability is either important or very important to them personally, and the majority also said that businesses should play a large role in advancing sustainability.

In a different survey in 2016 with similar results, 64% of millennials said that they wouldn’t take a job at a company that wasn’t socially responsible; three quarters said that they’d take a smaller salary to work at a company more in alignment with their values.

The message for big businesses is clear: As much as sustainability planning is about making sure an organization can survive the threat of climate change, it’s also part of convincing employees to take (and keep) the jobs that need to be filled. “From my perspective, it’s a competitive advantage for large enterprises to really align themselves with employees’ ideas about creating more environmentally sustainable choices,” says Evan Caron, cofounder of Swytch, the blockchain-based clean energy platform that commissioned the survey.

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About the author

Adele Peters is a staff writer at Fast Company who focuses on solutions to some of the world's largest problems, from climate change to homelessness. Previously, she worked with GOOD, BioLite, and the Sustainable Products and Solutions program at UC Berkeley.

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