Environmental and social record is key to successful business

Young people like corporate responsibility and prefer to buy from and work for brands with good environmental and social records, according to a study from Global Action Plan.

The research into this key consumer group clearly shows the business case for companies to focus on corporate responsibility.

The findings were launched in September at a gathering of young people and business leaders from household names such as Unilever, P&G, Nestle, Sainsbury’s and Barclays.

They show that 18- to 24-year-olds, a key part of Generation Z, are the most environmentally and socially aware age group in the UK today, and this awareness is determining how they make buying decisions and who they consider as potential employers.

Generation Z research findings
Key findings from the research include:

  • Out of all age groups, it is 18- to 24-year-olds who say that a company’s social and environmental impact will have the biggest effect on the respect they have for that company.
    Nine out of ten 18- to 24-year-olds recognise that a company’s social and environmental impact will affect how likely they are to buy from that company.
  • Only one in five 18- to 24-year-olds reported that a company’s harmful social and environmental practices would not have any bearing on how likely they are to work for that company, compared to one in three 45 to 64year-olds, and one in two people in the 65-plus age category.

The majority of 18- to 24-year-olds surveyed reported that a company’s social and environmental impact would have a significant influence on whether they chose to work for that company.


The event was put together by Global Action Plan, the Institute of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability (ICRS) and EY, a large employer of young people in the UK.

New dawn for young people and business
In preparation for the event, Global Action Plan’s Youth Panel met with 50 businesses to establish the ground rules for collaboration. The findings were then turned into a “Pre-nup”, a series of commitments which businesses can use to audit their readiness to engage with younger people.

“I like to think of this as a new dawn for business and young people working together," says Chris Large, Senior Partner at Global Action Plan.

"Business and young people alike have a responsibility to challenge themselves to a more honest and constructive dialogue. Collaboration and mutual understanding is the key to unlocking the innovative solutions we need.”

Says Anita Longley, Chair of ICRS: “This Pre-nup from our aspiring sustainability leaders of the future comes at just the right time. "It’s never been more important for business to understand and engage with their future workforce and customers.”

Young people want corporate responsibility
The Global Action Plan survey results are bolstered by findings from other studies including:

  • 73% of 18 to 24 year olds think it is important to change the way we live to protect the environment.
    Three in four 18-to 24-year-olds think that businesses should change how they operate to protect the environment.
    Young people are willing to pay a higher sustainability premium; 18- to 24-year-old UK shoppers are prepared to pay 15% more for a sustainable, fairer product, compared to a premium of 10% for all other age groups.

To invite the youth panel to speak with your business, email Charlotte Zamboni

More information from Charlotte Zamboni