Products with Purpose: A Values-Driven Generation Reshapes the Workplace and the Marketplace

Companies are facing increasing regulatory pressure to become sustainable. But these initiatives also pose an opportunity to recruit a new generation of employees and customers who seek businesses that share their values. 

Around the world, more than 1.2 billion jobs depend on a healthy environment. From fishing to forestry, climate change threatens thousands of industries and billions of jobs. Climate change also represents an opportunity, as mitigation efforts are anticipated to create up to 200 million jobs in the coming decades, and creating a new, circular economy could add another 6 million jobs. 

Many innovative companies are getting ahead of the regulatory curve by adopting sustainability measures and investing in the environment right now. From banks to breweries, companies are making “green” values central to their mission, and reaping the benefits. 

Values-Driven Employment

Studies show that more than 50% of people aged 18-34 are looking for work with a sustainable company, and nearly 1 in 5 business school students would work for a 40% lower salary if they had an employer that reflected their values. 

Dutch startup Searious Business points out that it is getting more and more difficult for companies with a reputation as polluters to attract a new generation of top talent. Without talented young workers, these companies struggle to innovate and future-proof their businesses, making them less and less competitive over time. Searious Business works with companies like Unilever, Danone & Barilla to assess and their use of plastics and develop circular systems that reduce waste, save money, and attract new employees. 

Recent years have seen a proliferation of job sites and job boards for candidates seeking employment with companies that share their values. There are sites for environmentally responsible jobs, vegan jobs, ethical jobs, and jobs with values-driven companies. These sites help candidates find work that is more personally meaningful and important, where they can feel like they are making a positive contribution to the world. 

The Values-Driven Consumer

And it’s not just candidates who want to work with companies that match their values. From finance to food, consumers want to buy products from companies that use their profits for good. A study shows that 58% of UK investors want to invest in funds that are eco-friendly, and it’s a trend around the world. Green investments are currently worth over 14.8€ billion in Europe, and eco-consciousness is driving a wide range of consumer choices. Among women 16-64, 43% would pay more for beauty products with eco-friendly packaging, and 56% would pay more for beauty products with natural and organic ingredients. 

Beauty brand Lush is pioneering zero-packaging initiatives, and L’Oreal has committed to having 100% eco-friendly packaging in the next 5 years. Procter & Gamble has launched a hair care line specifically designed to promote water conservation, and Net-a-Porter is curating a line of ethical clothing and sustainable beauty products. 

Communicating Corporate Values

Only 17% of consumers discover new, ethical beauty brands through social media and influencers, and the rise of “greenwashing” and other practices make it imperative for FMCG companies to find clear and effective ways to communicate their values to the public at large, so that consumers, candidates, and retailers know who they want to do business with. It takes more than just a page on your company website. Here are some great ways companies are communicating their values:

  • Registering as B Corps (or with other values-driven certification programs): There are currently over 3,500 B Corps in more than 70 countries around the world, and consumers know that these companies are driven by values rather than profits. Becoming a B Corp, or registering for recognized eco-friendly, sustainable, or fair-trade certifications helps consumers immediately spot brands that share their values. It also increases outreach, as many consumers and candidates search for certifications first, and identify like-minded companies in that way.
  • Starting or participating in public sustainability initiatives: When companies launch eco-friendly initiatives or participate in public events, they do not take direct, visible action to invest in and act on their values. These initiatives often attract press and media coverage, which helps to increase public awareness. 
  • Establishing values from day one: Some companies “greenwash” their values with mission statements and charitable donations, but don’t live them every day. Companies need to live their values every day, from the top to the bottom. Executives need to lead by example, not just with slogans and announcements, but by actively living company values. Incorporate company values into all your communications, from job listings to internal memos to advertisements, creating consistency between what you do and what you believe. Discuss values during the interview process, and enforce them during orientation and training. Recognize and reward behaviors that reflect company values, and actively seek employee input on process improvements. Finally, discipline or terminate employees who do not accurately represent and further the brand’s mission and values. 

If you want to attract top-tier talent that will take your company into a sustainable future, and live your values every day, contact grapefrute. Our perfect matching methods will help you find candidates that are passionate about being part of your mission, and together we will build a more sustainable future.