With recession concerns and rising costs squeezing margins for many employers, 84% of CEOs in a recent KPMG survey said that they had cut or were considering cutting Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) programs. Doing so may be short-sighted, however, according to a new survey from Esker which suggests that an employer’s demonstrated commitment to sustainability has become essential to many U.S. workers.
The Esker 2023 Survey: Sustainability in the Workplace, conducted for Esker by Pollfish, asked 600 U.S. salaried workers with middle-class incomes about the role sustainability plays in their choice of employers, their purchasing decisions in the workplace, and their personal investments.
“While some companies might think that cutting back on sustainability initiatives is the safe course in an uncertain economy, we believe there is more risk in turning away from our commitments.”
— Jean-Michel Bérard, CEO, Esker
Key findings from the survey include:
- 80% of respondents said it is either “extremely important” (48%) or “somewhat important” (32%) for businesses to “prioritize sustainability practices and values in today’s society.” Women valued sustainability practices more highly than men, with 84% of women calling them important compared to 75% of men.
- 76% of respondents said that sustainability practices and values are either “much more important” (39%) or “somewhat more important” (37%) to them than they were five years ago.
- 58% of respondents said they plan to consider a company’s sustainability record in their choice of future employers—up from 44% who considered this before taking their current job. This percentage shot up to 71% for workers under 35, including 81% of women under 35.
- When asked, “What specific steps toward sustainability should companies prioritize in 2023?” respondents said companies should practice energy efficiency (68%), reuse and recycle materials (65%), measure and minimize overall carbon footprint (57%), educate and train employees on sustainability practices (55%), work only with suppliers, partners, and vendors that practice sustainability (48%) and reduce paper use (43%).
“While some companies might think that cutting back on sustainability initiatives is the safe course in an uncertain economy, we believe there is more risk in turning away from our commitments,” said Jean-Michel Bérard, CEO at Esker. “Esker embraces sustainability and encourages other companies to do so as well. It’s part of our philosophy of ‘positive-sum growth’—tying our business success not just to our shareholders, but to all our stakeholders, including the communities we serve.”