Millennials want to work only for socially responsible companies

21. marts kl. 15:46
Millennials want to work only for socially responsible companies
“Four out of five millennials prefer to work for companies with clear ESG goals,” says Andrea Ruotolo, global head of customer sustainability at Rockwell Automation. Illustration: Ingeniøren.
The industrial automation industry needs to stay on top on the environmental, social responsibility, and sustainability goals.
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Sustainability has become one of the key words that almost all companies have to deal with—including the industrial automation industry.

It is no longer something that just lies on a random desk in the administration, but a megatrend, according to Andrea Ruotolo, global head of customer sustainability at Rockwell Automation.

And the consequence of that is that both the companies that provide solutions and those that purchase the equipment and use it in manufacturing must have a handle on sustainability—or on the slightly broader term “ESG” (Environmental, Social and Governance):

“We know from studies that four out of five millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996, ed.) prefer to work for companies with clear ESG goals. At the same time, we have asked our customers, and 97 percent of them have realised that sustainability policies and ESG are important or very important to their business. Not all of them have clear official statements, but they know that things are moving and that they have to be ready,” she tells Ingeniøren.

Andrea Ruotolo is global head of customer sustainability at Rockwell Automation. Illustration: Rockwell Automation.

What is the biggest challenge for companies today when raising their sustainability index?

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“Right now, in general, there is a big focus on CO2 across the world, but sustainability is based on all three pillars of ESG. The challenge is that we currently don’t have enough data to understand how the three pillars are connected to each other and to the company’s other key figures. That is why we work a lot in silos. But, fortunately, an enormous amount of inertia in society is being brought about by completely new understanding of, among other things, climate change. I think that the whole social media culture has made people aware of what is happening on a global scale, so they’ve realised that there’s something wrong with the way we use resources and handle waste.”

Facts: CSR and ESG

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) was originally described as a framework for a company’s voluntary environmental, social, and governance strategy. Later, statutory national and EU requirements have also been introduced. In Denmark, CSR reports have been a legal requirement for all large companies since 2009.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) framework covers data about a company’s environmental and climate impact, social/societal impact, and the general governance of the company. It includes both quantitative and financial data. ESG has gained ground in recent years, especially among investors and analysts.
There are also other ways to assess companies, and the research company Corporate Knights ranks 7,000 of the world’s most sustainable companies every year. In 2021, Vestas was ranked number one, and Chr. Hansen was number two. Ørsted was number seven, and two more Danish companies were in the top 100 (Novozymes at number 35, and Coloplast at number 83).

How would you describe a sustainable manufacturing company?

“It’s about assembling a lot of components, and for that we need certified data. Where do the materials come from? Where does the water come from and what do we do with the waste? Therefore, traceability of materials and energy consumption become incredibly important. It’s about gathering data from many different systems and putting them into a context. Data becomes a starting point for the stories we need to be able to tell about sustainability. And then you have to be honest—it’s far better to say that you’re not yet where you want to be when it comes to ESG, but that you're working on it and have started a process. That’s better than making exaggerated claims about a process that cannot be documented with data.”

Where does the demand for sustainability come from, other than from future employees?

“From everywhere! Especially from future generations of employees, but also from customers who ask about the companies’ policies and ESG goals, and from authorities at all levels. But a large part of the pressure also comes from investors who demand that the companies have some clear goals and standardized reports that show progress. Over the past 20–25 years, Europe has been a world leader, but the USA is now also moving and is about to hit the ground running. But the challenges have also come to attention across most of the world, if only to be able to gain access to the markets in the countries that are at the forefront of ESG.”

Did your job exist 10 years ago?

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“Yes, there were some people who worked with ESG and sustainability back then. But unlike today, it was perhaps just a small part of the HR department. And back then, there was also a greater focus on reducing costs. But it’s clear that back then, there were also visionary leaders who recognized the need to have clear ESG goals and policies—it just wasn’t a very important role to have then.”

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