43% of senior employees in the UK think their company has been guilty of greenwashing, according to a new report from British software and services provider Advanced.
The report also suggests that employees believe their bosses are prioritising increasing profit (47%) over hitting environmental targets (37%).
Advanced says that Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues are ‘no longer a niche concern’.
It’s time for all businesses to get ahead of the curve on this issue, as the UK government can, and will, begin to stamp down on businesses that are found to be greenwashing.
As mandated in the Climate Change Act 2008, the UK is tasked with reducing its carbon emissions by 80% before 2050 – and it says businesses have a ‘major role to play’.
It also says there is also a growing awareness in business that being greener helps organisations build a reputation for ‘doing the right thing’, creating a positive effect in the world, as well as giving them a considerable competitive edge.
However, the new findings from the Advanced 2021/22 Trends Report, which questioned 1,078 employees, suggest that many are believed to be simply ‘paying lip service’ – and environmentally-savvy employees will call them out.
The research also suggests that young people in particular are ‘cynical’ about the actions their organisation takes credit for.
According to the report, 56% of 18-24 year olds say their company has been guilty of greenwashing (compared to the 43% for all). They also seem to have a better handle on environmental issues with 83% of those aged 18-24 saying they understand their organisation’s carbon footprint, compared to the average for all ages, at 69%.
This suggests that young people want to align themselves with companies that are doing the right thing for the planet and society, and are working towards positive change, Advanced says.
Environmental issues matter to everyone, but the young have a vested interest and care about working for an organisation that wants to make a positive impact on the planet.
Gordon Wilson, CEO at Advanced, says: “Environmental issues matter to everyone, but the young have a vested interest and care about working for an organisation that wants to make a positive impact on the planet.
“Having a solid ESG policy with strategies to ensure it is delivered is essential for attracting employees – as well as customers and investors – and for helping build confidence from suppliers and other stakeholders.
“It’s time for all businesses to get ahead of the curve on this issue, as the UK government can, and will, begin to stamp down on businesses that are found to be greenwashing.”
Complying with law
In September, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) warned businesses they have until January 2022 to ensure their environmental claims comply with the law. It also published the Green Claims Code to help firms stay on the right side of the law.
Some progress, however, is being made, says Advanced, with nearly half (47%) of businesses, according to Advanced’s survey, educating staff and customers about the measures their organisation is taking to reduce their carbon footprint.
46% are increasing their efficiency of lighting, 41% are switching to green energy providers, and 38% are working with suppliers to reduce usage. A third (34%) are downsizing their offices, while 32% are purchasing carbon offsets such as planting trees.
Other key findings from the report include:
- 37% say ESG is a business priority for the next 12 months – up from 21% last year
- 59% are now using software to measure ESG performance
- 28% say they rely on carbon footprint tools in their daily working life
- 47% of respondents say the most important attribute for a business leader is encouraging positive environmental practices.