Millennials and Corporate Social Responsibility: the perfect match?

On 25 June we were guests at Friesland Campina to give a workshop for ICA (Inter Company Association), an association for young professionals from the fifty top employers in the Netherlands. The theme of the evening was the responsibility of companies for their impact on society, in other words: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). More than forty employees (millennials) from companies such as FrieslandCampina, a.s.r, ASML, VolkerWessels, Aegon, Randstad, Tennet, Aon, Arcadis, Eiffel, Royal HaskoningDHV and EY participated in our workshop "CSR Essentials".

CSR, the new normal for companies

Nowadays at almost every large company you can find a CSR-report on the website. Initiatives such as B-corps, The Shared Value Initiative and The Circle Economy are growing every day and help companies to deal positive with the impact they have on society and the environment. In short, CSR is indispensable for most companies.

The importance of CSR was also confirmed by the young professionals who all agreed that companies have a responsibility for their impact on the world. But on the question whether their company itself is active in the field of CSR, other answers were given. For example, 20% of the people in the room felt that their company was totally inactive in the area of CSR. As many as 52.5% of the people indicated that their company is active but not active enough. And only 27.5% people can proudly say: my company is super active!

How do millennials choose their employer?

Research from the Reputation Institute Benelux shows that 'Innovation' and 'CSR' account for more than 55% of the 'drivers' of a company's reputation. But do the young professionals of today also choose for an employer with a high CSR standard?

An European study by YoungCapital in collaboration with the University of Utrecht shows that millennials increasingly choose a fun job with a modal salary over boring work with a top salary. What stands out in the research is that CSR's policy falls outside the top three of what young people consider as the most important when choosing an employer. learning new things, the salary and clear expectations of the employer all go above the performance on CSR. Still 58% of Dutch respondents say CSR is an important subject for choosing a job

How green is the 'green generation'?

The millennials are sometimes called the 'green generation'. But is this title true? Research from Milieu Centraal shows that in practice this is very disappointing. A reason for this is the insufficient knowledge and motivation to make the right sustainable choices.

During the workshop we ask the question whether the young professionals have sufficient knowledge about CSR. More than half said they miss knowledge! Often the millennials are interested in CSR but they have a lack of sufficient knowledge to ensure that CSR comes on the agenda of their business. We believe that more knowledge can lead to a perfect match between CSR and millennials!

CSR something  for  you?

CSR  Essentials workshop is  for  (young) professionals  who  are passionate  about  making a  positive  impact (just  like  us!), and  want  to learn  more  about how  to  get started  with  CSR in  your  organization. This  is  the perfect  workshop  if you:

  • Want to  get  smart on  the  basics of  CSR
  • Area  board  member, manager  or  employee of  a  company that  is  not yet  very  active on  CSR  and you  want  to drive  the  change
  • Areworking  at  a company  that’s  already doing  a  lot with  CSR  and you  want  to get  in  on the  action!

Are you interested in a CSR training? Send an  e-mail to  hello@theterrace.nl and we’ll  get  in touch  with  you ASAP.


What sustainability leaders can learn from treasure hunters

Is sustainability leadership like a treasure hunt? Initially, I didn't think so, as these two concepts have different characteristics. Treasures generally don't move, while sustainability is an ever-moving target. Treasures are usually quite tangible and concrete, making it easier to express what you're looking for than when stating sustainability as a goal. And while both require an investment of time, willpower, and other resources, the treasure hunt usually benefits just a few, while sustainability strives to benefit many. Find out in this flog what sustainability leaders can learn from treasure hunters. On March 15, I attended Sustainable Talent's Sustainable MBA in One Day. When Mondo Leone, the guide for the day, was introduced as a treasure hunter, I was quite skeptical. But after a day at the Interface Awarehouse with a diverse group of people, I must admit there were great learnings to be captured from his treasure hunt. Some he listed at the end of the day, others developed over time in my mind. So here they are:

Explore for treasure

There are so many sides to sustainability. Use your curiosity to explore which topics are most relevant to your organization. The program highlighted the Sustainable Development Goals, Kate Raworth's Doughnut Economics, and the circular economy as sources to explore. Emerging technologies could also provide inspiration for areas to explore. One key caution: always start from why. If you don't know what your why is (at the personal and organizational level), then applying your curiosity to search for treasure won't be very useful.

Act for positive change

Organizations (re)act differently to the sustainability challenge. They can be either, inactive, reactive, active or pro-active, according to the model presented by Rob van Tilburg, one of the authors of the book Managing the Transition to a Sustainable Enterprise. Just like in a treasure hunt, nothing happens until someone takes action. Various models were provided to create strategies and action plans, including inspiring guidance on how to drive change by Peter Senge and an overview of the seven roles of sustainability managers.

Fail fast

"Adventure is uncertain", said our guide for the day in his closing comments, "so prepare for failure." Several of the other speakers also highlighted failure as a key step along the way. We simply don't have the time to develop the one and only perfect solution. They, therefore, urged us to test different ideas at a small scale. And then to fail fast and learn from these failures to scale up the stronger ideas. And to share those learnings, within the organization and with peers in other organizations.

Collaborate for sustainable impact

Today's societal challenges are too complex to be solved by just one person or even one company. Therefore, collaboration is a key factor to succeed. The treasure hunter not only engaged many to fund the project but also engaged many people to contribute their expertise. Peter Senge highlighted that successful collaboration depends on the goal setting; finding a balance between the big, stretch aspirational goal and the practical, immediate goals that give people a sense of fulfillment along the way. He also highlighted the importance of relationships, trust, and empathy. Without these, collaboration is usually a waste of time as people are then unwilling to yield their own short-term interests to the larger, shared, long-term interest.

Celebrate your treasure

With many people involved and short-term goals in place, there are many ways to celebrate achievements and learnings along the way. The treasure hunter celebrated the outcomes of his expedition with his partners and funders. Sustainability leaders celebrate milestones along the journey of integrating sustainability into the strategy. And at the end of the "Sustainable MBA in One Day" workshop? We threw our graduation caps up in the air and toasted to all we learned and the people we met!