Sustainable Investing: Your Why Shouldn’t Make Them Cry
Peter Roselle | September 04 2018
“The Atlantic” published an article in 1945 titled “As We May Think”, by a brilliant scientist named Vannevar Bush. He wrote, “Consider a future device (The Memex)… in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.”
It would take decades before PC’s could connect to the internet and turn his vision into reality – but that reality is now one of the dominant influencers of our culture. Few of us would make an important decision without researching our choices on the web. We can compare options like never before, especially as it relates to career choices.
In 1970, the band Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young released the song “Teach Your Children”. The chorus echoed, “Don’t you ever ask them why, ‘cause if they told you, you would cry. So just look at them and sigh… and know they love you.” Those words turned out to be quite profound considering that every generation since then seems to feel the same way.
Some of us may feel like we’re drowning in data, but today’s 20-and-30-something’s are fluent in using the tools of the web to research companies they’d like to work for. Today’s young recruits can enter an interview with a deep understanding of the “hard-facts” of the business with a simple Google search. What’s harder to know are the “soft-facts.” What is the culture like? Will I be treated fairly? Will I have a chance to improve my skills and advance my career? Before they accept your offer they may ask you tough questions about why your firm follows (or is missing) certain policies… or appeared in the news over a controversial issue.
Your “why” shouldn’t make them cry.
Senior leaders may now have a sense of Déjà Vu mixed with a dose of role reversal. The same Boomers that nodded their heads as they sang those words in the 1970’s may now be at loss to explain the “why” to NextGens about firm policies and long-term strategic plans.
The important hiring issues for today’s Millennials and Gen Z’s (purpose, culture and professional development), were recently highlighted in Deloitte’s seventh annual “Millennial Survey”, which “delves into respondents’ perceptions of the evolving threats and opportunities in an increasingly complex world.” (https://bit.ly/2fewlTM). This year’s report is the first to also include responses from Gen Z’s.
Millennials are categorized as those born between 1981 and 1996.
It’s interesting to note in the graph that, unlike Boomers and Gen X, both Millennials and Gen Z’s have sub-categories with labels tied back to the evolution of technology predicted by Vannevar Bush:
Older Millennials are dubbed “The Last to Grow Up Offline”.
Younger Millennials are called “Digital Natives.”
Older Gen Z’s are “The First Connected Kids”.
Younger Gen Z’s are “Technology Inherent.”
To quote from the report, “As seen in previous surveys, companies and senior management teams that are most aligned with millennials in terms of purpose, culture and professional development are likely to attract and retain the best millennial talent and, in turn, potentially achieve better financial performance. Loyalty must be earned, and the vast majority of millennials are prepared to move, and move quickly, for a better workplace experience.”
The survey responses show a sharp decline in the last year on all four questions related to corporate motivations and ethics:
Also from the article: “This generation of professionals’ sense of loyalty has retreated... Attracting and retaining millennials and Gen Z respondents…
begins with financial rewards and workplace culture;
it is enhanced when businesses and their senior management are diverse,
and when the workplace offers higher degrees of flexibility.
Our respondents are imploring business leaders to
take the lead in solving the world’s problems,
to shift organizations’ motives from inordinately focusing on making profit to balancing social concerns,
and to be more diverse, flexible, nurturing of and generous with its employees.
Those organizations that are able to deliver likely will attract and retain the best millennial and Gen Z employees and potentially strengthen their prospects for long-term success.”
The message seems clear: Culture matters. Authenticity and transparency matter.
The most successful companies will articulate a vision to the NextGens, demonstrate intentionality about fulfilling that vision and create a culture that inspires them to make long-term commitments. As a portfolio manager those are the companies I want to consider owning.
If you would like to learn more about our Sustainable Investing approach, please contact me.
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