The Environment is Gen Y and Z’s Primary Concern – and Organizations Can Take Advantage of This

The Gen Z and Y generations feel personally responsible for making a difference in environmental issues and think the world can make headway on the most critical problems in the following five years.

There are five types of legal adult generations:

  • Silent Generation
  • Baby boomers
  • Generation X
  • Generation Y
  • Generation Z

In 2020, Generation Y and Generation Z occupied half of the workspace, as between the two groups is only a decade. Studies show that this decade brought both similarities and differences between the generations. They are both technology savvy and use the internet and digital devices, as their main communication tools are online. People from these groups are also known for their high expectations and over-the-top self-confidence. In terms of concerns about the environment, Generation Y and Generation Z are passionate about environmental problems and looking for ways to promote sustainability. But, as stated before, these generations also have unique characteristics due to their different experiences in life. Generation Y grew up during the booming of the economy and had an easy life, making them feel more entitled, self-centered, and optimistic than other groups. Generation Z dealt with economic recession while growing up and witnessed their family and loved ones lose their jobs and homes. Therefore, they’re more aware of the risk and less demanded.

The environment is Gen Y and Z’s primary concern – and organizations can take advantage of this

Let’s examine Generations Y and Z expectations toward organisational involvement in environmental problems

The events from 2020 showed that the two generations are determined to make their mark. Research reinforces what we already know that they want to buy from brands that support sustainability. Companies have a single shot at engaging these two groups by driving change into the world. Generation Y and Generation X are tired of the narrative that has lasted for so long on the news, and they believe that the moment to make progress together (when it comes to vital problems like climate change) has come. 85% of Generation Z think that it’s best to focus on the positive progress individuals and companies make rather than highlight the negative.

These groups feel influenced by the events that affected the world during the last years. Events like a mass shooting, species extinction, discrimination of people of colour, and other similar ones make them care more about issues, even if they don’t directly impact them. They feel like they can help the world move forward and are inspired by personalities like Greta Thunberg and Emma Gonzalez that take stands on environmental problems. Generation Y and Generation Z feel they have the power to make the world a better place even if they face urgent and insurmountable situations. They remain hopeful and know that small steps like companies using different balers and compactors for recycling can make a difference in the long run. Even recycling their garbage at home makes them feel like they have a positive impact on the world.

Generation Z and Generation Y want to align with purpose-driven organizations

While most of the individuals from these two groups feel personally responsible for making a difference, most Gen Zers follow the customer trend that promotes that organizations need to take action on environmental and social problems and hold companies accountable. Over 90% of them state that if a brand makes a commitment, it should have the right programs and policies in place to back it up. They research to see if the companies they buy from are honest regarding environmental problems and transparent about the efforts they make to cut down emissions and pollution.

Generation Y and Generation Z reward the companies that demonstrate their original purpose through loyalty and promote them to their peers. These two generations use purpose as the primary filter when deciding the brand they associate with. They always check the company’s purpose before applying for an open position or planning purchases.

Organizations worldwide are in continuous war for talented resources, and they use their purpose to attract Generation Z specialists. They clearly communicate the methods they use to improve environmental problems to appeal to these generations.

What issues do Generation Z and Generation Y find of outmost importance?

These two groups feel unprecedented urgency around numerous problems, but the environment is their priority, especially when it comes to the list of issues they want organizations to address. Environmental issues are superseded by poverty and hunger, which is one of the main problems companies worldwide fight to solve. They find of utmost importance other issues are human rights, economic development, health and disease, and education.

Regarding the above list, Generation Z and Generation Y feel that both individuals and organizations must play an important role in solving them. And even if they consider these topics essential, they’re not exclusive because they’re also worried about job creation, racial equality, sexual harassment, and gender equality.

A great number of Gen Zers also consider topics like climate change, religious tolerance and freedom, immigration, gun control, LGBTQ rights, and fake news vital. We should not forget that these are the generations that witnessed school shootings and seen the rights of the LGBTQ+ community compromised. It’s not surprising that they want organizations to play an active role in influencing these problems. Because they’ve seen the impacts of these issues first-hand, they’re ready to change the course of things and make the world better. They don’t expect organizations and companies to work alone, but they’re determined to take part. Three-quarters of Gen Zers are ready to support the brands that care about the topics they resonate with, buy eco-friendly products, and learn how to recycle and reuse. These are generations that want to learn what they can do to make a difference. We can see their involvement in the way they volunteer, start and sign petitions, donate, boycott brands, protest, share information on social media platforms, and take online actions to trigger various actions.

Understanding what Generations Z and Y expect from organizations can help them develop methods and strategies to engage them.

Walter Moore is an accomplished social media marketing specialist with 7 years of experience in the digital marketing industry. His articles and blog posts focus on various topics related to online marketing, including leveraging free Instagram likes to boost engagement.