Tomorrow's business leaders bring personal beliefs and experience to the workplace
Businesses trying to be sustainable but must match words with actions
Future leaders confident in their ability to operate sustainably
As businesses continue to feel the pinch from tough economic conditions, the next generation of business leaders says in a new study that sustainability must be a priority for all businesses and sets out its plans for a more sustainable future.
Published today, ‘The Sustainable Generation: The Sky Future Leaders Study' examines for the first time the attitudes and ambitions towards sustainability of 750 corporate graduate trainees, high potential middle-managers and MBA students. It uncovers a group who readily describe themselves as the first ‘sustainable generation' and who have a clear vision for their own careers. But it also sends a warning that UK businesses aren't matching their warm words with concrete actions.
The sustainable generation
Having grown up with issues like environmental protection and social responsibility as a constant feature in their lives, tomorrow's business leaders are knowledgeable about sustainability and confident in what they will do in the future to address it.
They also send a clear message to HR directors about the importance of sustainability credentials to their own career plans. 34% of respondents see creating social and environmental value as an overall career goal, just 1 percentage point behind earning personal financial rewards.
Sustainability makes business sense
The sustainable generation is clear that there is a strong business case for addressing social and environmental issues. 70% agree that sustainability can create new opportunities for business, while 66% believe difficult economic conditions should not be an excuse for businesses to ignore sustainability.
Business performance today
But sustainability is still not being fully integrated into the way the businesses operate. While 78% of Future Leaders believe that UK businesses are making a genuine effort to do so, just 3% believe they are fully succeeding.
The clear gap between words and actions is underlined by future leaders' responses to businesses that claim to have a social purpose beyond creating profit to improve their reputation. Just 27% of tomorrow's business leaders think companies make such claims because they genuinely believe them to be true.
Ready and able to lead
The report raises questions as to the quality and quantity of sustainability training provided by business schools and businesses. 35% of future leaders do not believe their employers are providing adequate levels of training or education on sustainability.
A more sustainable future
The sustainable generation outlines a five-point plan to go further than their predecessors in integrating sustainability when at the helm of the UK's businesses. It is:
- Increasing employee engagement to harness the workforce creativity
- Collaborating across industry to share best practice
- Taking more responsibility for supply chain sustainability credentials
- Integrating sustainability into values and decisions
- Using new technology to improve business performance on sustainability
Jeremy Darroch, Sky Chief Executive, launched the study and said:
"While sustainability has become part of everyday business language, little has been known until now about the views of future leaders. This study shows that tomorrow's business leaders are already engaged with sustainability and see it as an important part of their future careers. In their own words, this is ‘the sustainable generation' and there is much we can all learn from them.
"The report contains important lessons about the expectations that future leaders will have of the companies where they choose to work. All businesses have a strong incentive to provide better training, to tap into the ideas and creativity of their people and to ensure their actions on sustainability live up to their words.
"Much of today's report will resonate with businesses which have already recognised the opportunity that sustainability can bring. For example, at Sky, we don't believe we have to choose between acting responsibly and being a successful commercial business. Because our future success is based on long-term relationships with customers, we're committed to doing the right thing and making a positive contribution to life in the UK."
Click here to download the report.
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Notes to Editors:
This report presents the results of research undertaken by Sky to determine the attitudes and aspirations of the UK's next generation of business leaders towards sustainability. The study is based on research undertaken by market research agency Populus, who interviewed 751 graduate trainees, current and recently graduated MBA students, and high potential middle managers earmarked for leadership positions. Participants were recruited via social media networks and existing market research panels. The Association of MBAs, the international authority on postgraduate business education, secured responses from MBA students studying both full and part-time degrees.
Populus conducted in-depth telephone interviews with 20 participants, all of whom had completed the initial online survey. In order to gain greater insight from all three groups of participants, a workshop was held in London for 11 future leaders. The research was conducted between September and November 2011.
Sky entertains and excites more than 10.3 million homes through the most comprehensive multichannel, multi-platform television service in the UK and Ireland. Sky continues to break new ground with its own portfolio of channels: Sky 1 combines its commitment to UK production with the best of the US; Sky Living pushes ahead with fresh and innovative entertainment formats; Sky Arts is the UK's only dedicated arts channel brand; Sky Atlantic is the home to HBO and other iconic drama and comedy, Sky Sports is still raising the bar in sports broadcasting; Sky News remains a pioneer in television news; and Sky Movies is leading the way in High Definition and on-demand.
Sky also works with dozens of other broadcasters on the satellite platform, as well as online and on mobile through the ground-breaking Sky Go service. Sky has also led the UK into the age of high definition television, launched Europe's first 3DTV channel, Sky 3D, and offers customer even more flexibility and choice through Sky Anytime+, its internet-delivered video on demand service. Since launching Sky Broadband and Sky Talk in 2006, the company has also been the UK's fastest-growing home communications provider.
Sky believes in making a wider contribution to the communities in which it operates, not least by increasing participation in, and access to, the arts, supporting grassroots sports, and taking positive action on the environment.