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The Future of Sustainability: What Consumers Crave & Where Employees Thrive


Guest Article | Carolyn Mortland - Co-founder Futureful

Ex- Fonterra Director Global Sustainability, Carolyn Mortland continues to hold directorships in businesses across NZ with a keen eye on social and environmental sustainability priorities. She is also leading a revolution in connecting individual priorities and values with ethical companies. We think this is exciting space and are delighted to have Carolyn share Futureful with our community

 

In recent years, businesses have seen a profound shift towards responsible business practices, responding to irrefutable evidence of a planet struggling and inequalities growing.

As someone who has worked in sustainability for over a decade, I think we’re just at the start of the revolution, with a lot of upside for retailers who lead on sustainability for two key and intertwined stakeholder groups: your Consumers and your Employees.

The desire to align personal values with our choices is stronger than ever. Whether it's making a purchase

or choosing where to work, ethics will pay an increasingly significant role in our decision-making processes. It's a two-way street: increasingly, consumers will want to buy from ethical companies, and employees will want to work for them. It is in fact, a symbiotic relationship and a driving force for both customers and employees.



Consumers Seek Ethical Companies

The shift towards ethical consumerism is a defining trend of our times. Consumers are increasingly mindful of where they spend their money and prefer to support businesses that align with their values. They understand that their purchasing decisions can influence corporate behaviour, and they want to make a positive impact.

Conscious consumers prioritise ethics and sustainability when making purchase decisions. They see ethical companies as more trustworthy and will, increasingly, use their buying choices as a form of activism, as we’re seeing with the rise in plant-based and meat-alternative foods.



Employees Yearn for Ethical Employers

Just as consumers seek ethical companies, employees are increasingly seeking workplaces that reflect their values. They recognize that where they work can be a reflection of who they are, and they want to be part of organisations that prioritize ethics, sustainability, and social responsibility.

In a 2023 Deloitte survey of millennials and Gen Z, one-third of respondents say they’ve turned down employers based on a mismatch of values.


Employees are looking for a sense of purpose, beyond the paycheck. They want to feel that their work contributes to a greater good and spend their time at work knowing they are part of something meaningful and positive, a company they can be proud of and whose products and services they can sell authentically.



The Intersection of Consumer and Employee Values

When a company shows leadership on sustainability, it becomes a magnet for both conscientious consumers and top talent.

We will see an increasing virtuous cycle for leading companies, where they can attract ethical consumers to support their products and services, which in turn will enable them to invest in better employee benefits, ethical practices and sustainable operations. And this positive brand perception will increasingly help them become an employer of choice in the job market.

This synergy will reinforces the company's commitment to its ethical principles and amplify its impact on both fronts.

We have existing examples of this symbiotic relationship between consumers and employees today:


Patagonia: outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia is renowned for its environmental stewardship. This commitment has attracted environmentally conscious consumers who willingly pay a premium for their products. Simultaneously, Patagonia is known for providing an inspiring workplace that aligns with its employees' values, making it a sought-after employer.

Ben & Jerry's: The ice cream company Ben & Jerry's has been vocal about its social justice and sustainability initiatives. Its ethical stance resonates with consumers who appreciate the company's dedication to responsible business practices. Ben & Jerry's employees also benefit from this ethos, working for a company that values social responsibility.





Futureful is a game changing online job site coming to New Zealand (then Australia) early next year. Futureful helps progressive employers attract the best talent, by matching them with job seekers who share the same priorities, values and purpose as the company. Companies that join Futureful’s platform, will attract not only would-be employees, but future consumers, who care about where they shop and what they consume.


Companies that recognise and embrace the synergies between consumers' desire to buy from ethical companies and employees' desire to work for them will have a unique advantage. They will not only attract loyal customers who believe in their mission but also recruit and retain top talent who share their ethical vision, and staff who can sell their products and services authentically.

 

Carolyn was head of sustainability for one of New Zealand’s largest companies, and is now the co-founder of Futureful, an online job site for progressive organisations.


Open now to interested companies in New Zealand, to register your interest go to www.futureful.co

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