As Millennials are entering the work force, both demand and supply for jobs with social and/or environmental impact has increased tremendously. Similar to consumers who are increasingly seeking out fair trade labels and lead certifications, young job seekers today are screening their prospective employers for value alignment. Moreover, the younger generation is redefining the very nature of work, demanding more flexibility with many people choosing to work on a freelance basis and juggling several projects at the same time. Considering that by 2015 Millennials will constitute 75% of the global workforce and by 2020 freelancers are expected to make up 50% of the full time workforce, companies are taking note of these trends and are changing the way they do business to retain and recruit top talent.
As several recent studies point out, Millennials are increasingly interested in social and environmental issues and this is reflected in their expectations from businesses. In fact, the 2014 Deloitte Millennials Report indicates that 63% of Millennials donate to charities and 43% actively volunteer. The same survey reveals nearly 50% of Millennials want to work for a business with ethical practices. They believe business can do more to address society’s challenges of resource scarcity (68%), climate change (65%) and income inequality (64%).
These larger societal trends are translating into what younger people consider important when choosing jobs. The 2012 Net Impact Survey results show that “employer has similar values” was ranked high by both workers (67%) and graduating students (74%), followed by “contribution to society” and “make a better world”. The same survey reveals that job satisfaction is also significantly higher among those employees that have the opportunity to make a direct social and environmental impact by a 2:1 ratio. Similarly, two-thirds of graduating university students report making a difference through their next job is a priority and 45% of students say they would take a pay cut to do so.
As demand for impact jobs grows, so do opportunities to hone the necessary skills. Currently, more than 30 business schools in the U.S., Canada and England offer graduate coursework on social entrepreneurship. Many business and public service schools have well-established centers for social innovation, social entrepreneurship and impact investing that provide their students with both academic and hands-on training to succeed in impact investing and social entrepreneurship sectors.
Responding to these emerging trends, employers are changing the way they do business and are creating more jobs with social and environmental impact. Corporations are changing their operations to become more sustainable. Some businesses go even further and structure public-private partnerships to directly affect certain causes. For example, Nando’s, a South African restaurant group, and Coca Cola launched social impact bonds to fight malaria in Africa. This trend towards greater sustainability and social impact among businesses is evidenced by a growing number of B Corporations. There are now more than 1,000 B Corps from 33 countries and over 60 industries. The Wall Street Journal explains that “more companies are touting the B Corp logo, a third-party seal of environmental and social credentials, to attract young job seekers who want an employer committed to both a social mission and the bottom line.”
It is clear that both supply and demand for impact jobs is there. However, there is a lack of information on both sides to effectively connect job seekers and employers. There is a need for a crowdsourcing platform for impact jobs that would enable companies to connect and communicate easily with pre-vetted professionals to complete a given project. Similar crowdsourcing platforms abound in sectors such as IT, sales, fashion, and translations. For example, Lionbridge Enterprise Crowdsourcing focuses on helping brands increase their international market share and offers 140,000 fully screened crowd workers in 102 countries. Such a platform enables employers to compete for top talent and set competitive pay while reducing the costs of hiring and training new fulltime employees. Job seekers would be able to shop for meaningful projects matching their area of interest and their desired level of flexibility. This may be a way to harness current momentum, engage more people in purposeful projects and multiply social and environmental impact.
by Jenna Nicholas, Toniic Fellow