You may have heard of “conscious quitting”, which refers to an employee’s intention to resign or leave a company whose practices run counter to their own values, whether environmental, political or social.
Conceptualised by former Unilever CEO Paul Polman, this phenomenon underlines workers’ increasing desire to make a difference, take a stand, or show commitment through their work.
But while conscious quitting encompasses a variety of values, environmental issues stand out when it comes to motivating factors for deciding to leave or refuse a job. So much so that a specific expression has been coined for it: “climate quitting”.
This recent term has been used in several surveys on the subject, one of which was carried out by KPMG among 6,000 working adults in the United Kingdom. Findings revealed that 20% of employees said they had turned down a job offer when their company’s commitment to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria did not match their personal values.
The results also showed that almost one in two people (46%) would like the company they work for to demonstrate a commitment to ESG.
Climate quitting is also a phenomenon elsewhere: according to a survey published by the European Investment Bank in March, two-thirds of Europeans believe it is key that employers “prioritise sustainability”.
Over three-quarters of those aged between 20 and 29 consider their potential future employer’s climate credentials to be an important criterion when choosing a job, with 22% even considering it a top-priority criterion.
For some, it even surpasses criteria such as salary conditions or career prospects within a company. An article recently published by The Conversation details a study in progress led by Grace Augustine from the University of Bath in England, and Birthe Soppe of the University of Innsbruck in Austria.
The duo, who interviewed dozens of people in the oil and gas industry, explained that some employees who resigned out of ecological awareness nonetheless said they enjoyed their work.
“They were paid well, found their work intellectually rewarding, and had opportunities for career development and travel,” the researchers noted.
While it is difficult to assess the scale of this phenomenon at present, there is good reason to believe the trend could grow in decades to come, especially since it is largely driven by Generation Z. This is the conclusion reached by John McCalla-Leacy, head of ESG at KPMG.
“For business, the direction is clear: by 2025, 75% of the working population will be millennials, meaning they will need to have credible plans to address ESG if they want to continue to attract and retain this growing pool of talent,” he said.