What is climate quitting?

by Dan Byrne on Jan 26, 2023

What is climate quitting

What is climate quitting, and why should boards and management be concerned by it?

Climate quitting is a new term, but the practice has been growing in popularity for a few years. 

It pits ESG-minded workers against companies who don’t feel the same way, and if current trends continue, it might lead to tough decisions for businesses down the line.

What is climate quitting?

It’s the practice of leaving a job or rejecting the offer of one because the candidate thinks the employer’s ESG (environment, social, and governance) commitments aren’t up to scratch. 

The term is new – only appearing in mainstream media in the last few years. But the practice has evolved and grown with the climate crisis – enough, now, to prompt a degree of worry among business leaders and recruitment market analysts.

Who climate-quits?

The practice is strongest among the two youngest working generations: millennials and generation Z (or zoomers) – basically anyone in their early 40s or younger. 

Generally, these generations have shown a stronger appreciation for combatting climate change in the corporate landscape. 

Whether they work for a business or buy from it, or both, they want assurances that it meets specific climate goals.  

A recent KPMG survey found that nearly half of 6,000 surveyed adults in this age range wanted their employer to have an ESG commitment. One in five declined a job offer because they felt this wasn’t the case.

What are the risks associated with climate quitting?

The most significant risk is to a company’s recruitment strategy. If a firm can’t bring top talent on board because of ideology conflicts, it has a problem. 

Talent feeds strategy, and if there is a talent shortage, critical points in a company’s strategy get left behind. 

This leaves a company vulnerable to outside pressure, and weak from investors’ points of view. Investors, by the way, are also increasingly conscious of ESG and want to see their capital go towards green projects.

What can businesses do to prevent climate quitting?

In short, get better at ESG. 

This is a tall ask, not least because ESG is an ocean of information, sometimes far too much for a governance leader to grasp at once. 

But ESG is so essential to stakeholders now that grasping the concept as far as possible should be a top priority, especially if a firm doesn’t want an email from the perfect candidate explaining that they have decided to work elsewhere.

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