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Climbing up the desirability ladder of young talent’s careers

Most employers keep the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability as a compliance and not a necessity. If not accompanied by accountable actions, their efforts for being more responsible may now be seen as an attempt to green wash and this could lead to a negative impact on their employer brand.
The United Nations Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) and Conferences of the Parties (COPs) are indeed raising the next gen awareness on the environmental and social challenges facing the planet. Their shift in priority foreshadows the type of corporate they would prefer and the employers that would like to join.
To better understand this evolution, we surveyed 275 young international graduates (a survey administered in spring 2021 to young graduates based mainly in Asia and Europe). 53% of respondents have a management background and 46% a scientific background, just starting out their working lives, on their knowledge of CSR, engagement, and motivational drivers. When asked about their preferred employment situation, two thirds wanted to be salaried employees, 72% wanted to work in the private sector and 42% in an innovative company. They are aware of CSR concepts with two thirds knowing well what a company’s societal or environmental mission and 53% the UN’s SDGs are, when another quarter have also heard about it.
Young graduates put great weight to the overall purpose of a company. More than eight out of ten respondents told us that being in phase with a company’s overall purpose would encourage them to join it and two out of ten would even make it a prerequisite.
Fig1 - EDHEC - Aug 4
A survey administered in spring 2021 to young graduates based mainly in Asia and Europe. 53% of respondents have a management background and 46% a scientific background
This is further substantiated by their response to the question of whether they would find it engaging that their compensation was directly linked to the achievement of the company’s overall purpose: 25% of respondents replied ‘totally’ and 51% replied ‘fairly’.

Fig2 - Aug 4 column - EDHEC

These results highlight a new reality: the societal or environmental mission of a company is becoming an element of attraction for young talent as important as compensation.
As part of this study, we also interviewed human resources people from two Indian multinationals who are actively seeking young talent and their opinion differs from the youth’s perspective. Both the companies have extensive CSR activities and goals. They are mission oriented and have tangible goals set with timelines regarding their sustainability activities.
But they don’t utilize these activities or promote them as part of their recruitment process. They usually use benefits and compensation as a leverage for recruitment. Although they consider that candidates are attracted by sustainability and CSR, they believe those were not enough to convert them from aspirant to employee.
From the survey, we identified that young talent after having their basic needs in a workplace met (work environment, remuneration, personal development etc.) focus heavily on the environmental and societal impact they could have through their company. 91% of respondents say that they would be motivated by objectives to be achieved related to the overall purpose of the company (societal or environmental), right from the job description stage. Sustainability can be leveraged not just as a marketing tool for statutory and competitive benefits, but also as an effective commitment tool.
Young talent put a lot of hope in the ability of companies to tackle social and environmental issues, even if they have still some doubts on the fact that companies will engage that way. To commit next gen employees, this belief must be built and reenforced by improving the awareness of the CSR and sustainability activities along with gaining the trust on the basic aspects like working conditions and human rights.

Fig3 - Aug 4 column - EDHEC

Fig4 - August 4 column - EDHEC
The day is not far when CSR and sustainability become a norm for the companies and the top priority for candidates shortlisting an ideal company. We recommend companies who set sustainability as goals for the future, to promote them during their recruitment process to attract the best talent and develop a culture from the beginning.
The traditional attributes being used by companies for attracting, engaging, and retaining their talent will soon become obsolete. The best way to differentiate themselves from competitors is through transparency of CSR and sustainability strategies that will create a virtuous dynamic towards a common purpose for the company and harmony among its employees.
Rishi Satwik - EDHEC
Rishi Satwik
Aravind Harikumar - EDHEC
Aravind Harikumar
Rishi Satwik MV is EDHEC Masters in Management (Grande Ecole), EDHEC MSc in Global and Sustainable Business. Aravind Harikumar is EDHEC Masters in Management (Grande Ecole). Under the supervision of Geneviève Houriet Segard, EDHEC NewGen Talent Centre