Drop fossil fuel clients, or lose Gen Z workers.
That’s the stark message we can take from Comm Declare’s 2021 Fuelling Fantasies report, which concluded that the majority of under 30s (73%) are reluctant to work for businesses that contribute to pollution and global warming.
“Our surveys have shown that agency heads are out-of-step with the climate concerns of their younger workers and that those aged under 30 are being asked to work for highly polluting companies against their better judgment,” the report concluded.
That better judgment comes from growing up with an unprecedented amount of information at their fingertips, making Gen Zs hyper-aware of the links between big business and big issues.
As a result, Gen Z’s beliefs are often in conflict with their workplace’s clients or business practices – especially in regards to climate change and pollution.
For example, 73% of people under 30 Comm Declare’s surveyed for their 2021 Fuelling Fantasies report said they’re reluctant to work for greenhouse gas polluters.
Two in three went so far as to say that agencies should flat out refuse to work for fossil fuel companies.
“These workers will vote with their feet, as 70% are actively wanting to work with a company that shares their concerns about global warming.”
It’s time for businesses to walk their talk
Meanwhile, the Comm Declare received bizarrely inconsistent responses from agencies.
While 78% said they thought climate action was important to attract employees, 77% of agencies reported working for high emissions clients in the past 12 months.
While 39% agreed they shouldn’t work with fossil fuel clients, one in three have done so in the past year.
“Worryingly, some agencies have responded to the growing concern about their fossil fuel clients by hiding them,” wrote Anna Macdonald for Mumbrella.
“Many agencies promote their work for ethical causes while keeping quiet about polluting clients.”
But, having grown up in an era of re-energised corporate activism and responsibility, Gen Zs can (and do) see through the smoke screens.
That being said, agencies and creatives need to step up by divesting from fossil fuel clients while acknowledging climate change – with some big names already leading the charge.
“Many corporate procurement policies now explicitly factor in the climate and environment,” said the report.
“Companies with significant advertising budgets such as Telstra, Woolworths and IAG are now vowing to de-carbonise their supply chains, and agencies are advised to clean up their acts.”