Today’s B-school graduates have grown up with issues like environmental protection and social responsibility as constant features in their lives. But, I often wonder how this will affect their career goals. Are these MBA students ready to lead what some now are calling the first “sustainable generation?”
New research from the UK’s Sky provides some intriguing insights and suggests that future leaders are ready to embrace the challenge of integrating sustainability into business best practices.
In its recently released report The Sustainable Generation: The Sky Future Leaders Study, Sky, a television service from the UK and Ireland, examines the attitudes and ambitions of more than 750 corporate graduate trainees, high-potential middle-managers and MBA students.
Among the highlights:
- 34 percent of the survey respondents see creating social and environmental value as an overall career goal, and a whopping 96 percent said they plan on being involved with sustainability in their careers.
- 79 percent said the vision and values of a company are an important factor when looking at potential employers.
- 70 percent agreed that sustainability can create new opportunities for businesses, and just 21 percent said sustainability has to come at the expense of profit.
However, the study also revealed that these future leaders sense a disconnect between corporate words and actions with regard to sustainability:
- 78 percent of those polled leaders believe the UK businesses are making a genuine effort to fully integrate sustainability into operations, however only 3 percent believe they are truly succeeding.
- 35 percent believe employers are not providing adequate levels of training or education on sustainability.
How will they close the gap? According to Sky, the sustainable generation will turn to a five-point plan to improve the way sustainability is integrated with strategic business goals. This plan includes:
- Increasing employee engagement to harness the workforce creativity.
- Collaborating across industry to share best practices.
- Taking more responsibility for supply chain sustainability credentials.
- Integrating sustainability into values and decisions.
- Using new technology to improve business performance on sustainability.
I look forward to seeing this kind of progress. As Jeremy Darroch, Sky Chief Executive, said, these future leaders appear determined to put their positive mark on the business landscape.
“While sustainability has become part of everyday business language, little has been known until now about the views of future leaders. This study shows that tomorrow’s business leaders are already engaged with sustainability and see it as an important part of their future careers,” he concluded. “In their own words, this is ‘the sustainable generation’ and there is much we can all learn from them.”