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opinion

Who are the ‘ethical natives’, and how will they change the world?

Millennials – those born after 1980 – represent the largest presence in the marketplace and by 2030 will make up 75% of the workforce. They’re widely regarded as representing a divergence from the habits and outlooks of their parents, but what does this generation think about consumption, work and life, and how will this inform how they use their money?

Few generations have received the same scrutiny as ‘Millennials’. While opinions differ, some characteristics of the group that remain consistent are that they came of age during the financial crisis, and are referred to as ‘digital natives’ thanks to growing up in an era of unprecedented technological change.

Recent market studies have begun to dissect the moral values of the generation and have found resounding support for green ethics and a widespread sense that the impact of business should go far beyond profit. A recent report identified three interesting ways in which Millennials differ from other generations:

They want their money to make a difference

Nearly nine out of ten (86%) of millennial investors are interested in sustainable investing and they are almost twice as likely to invest in companies or funds that target specific social or environmental outcomes. They also believe that their investment can create positive change, with 75% saying it can influence climate change and 84% saying their investments can help lift people out of poverty.

With global threats to our climate and food security as well as ongoing social challenges, an emerging workforce with green values could be an essential step to securing a sustainable future

 

Millennials recognise their impact when it comes to consumption

Not only are Millennials more interested in positive impact, the research also suggests that they recognise the impact that their choices have. For example, they’re twice as likely to check product packaging to ensure sustainability and similarly as likely to purchase from a brand because of the company’s social and/or environmental impact.

They want their work to reflect their values

It follows then that Millennials want their time to have the same impact as their money and so are nearly three times more likely to seek employment with a company because of its stance on social and/or environmental impact. A resounding 87% of those born between 1990 and 2015 also believe that “the success of a business should be measured in terms that go further than its financial results” (Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017).

millennials

Comparison on attitudes towards sustainability and investment between millennials and general population. Graph from the Institute for Sustainable Investing

 

As digital natives, Millennials are more likely to take a global perspective on their impact and, arguably, recognise the purchasing and investment power they hold. With global threats to our climate and food security as well as ongoing social challenges, an emerging workforce with green values could be an essential step to securing a sustainable future.

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Sabine Harnau 8 months ago

Thanks for writing positively about Millennials. Too often, this generation gets bad publicity because their life style, values and experiences differ so much from those of their predecessors. I had never heard the term “ethical native” — I think it’s a fantastic summary of this new market place in which the triple bottom line is the true marker of success.