Millennials Driving Sustainability In Small, Medium Businesses

Millennials will lead the way for small and medium businesses in future conversations and efforts around conservation, energy efficiency, and environmental stewardship, according to the second annual Cox Conserves Sustainability Survey.

The national survey, commissioned by Cox Enterprises, examines sustainability opportunities and challenges for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The 2015 Cox Conserves Sustainability Survey was conducted this summer among a national sample of 2,019 decision-makers at businesses with less than 1,000 employees.

millennials-driving-sustainability The top finding from the 2015 survey is that millennials — people born in the early 1980s through early 2000s — have a huge appetite for sustainability and will drive adoption of these practices. As shown in the infographic (right), millennials showed greater knowledge about sustainability than other generations and a strong interest in implementing sustainable business practices, but noted that in their current roles, they lacked the influence needed to effect change.

“Millennials are on the leading edge of today’s thinking and dialogue about sustainability and will greatly influence the scope and effectiveness of tomorrow’s efforts,” said Cox Enterprises Executive Vice President Alex Taylor. “The Cox Conserves Sustainability survey found that this demographic group is more informed, more energetic, and more passionate about implementing sustainable business practices.”

The 2015 survey showed that there has been little change in the number of SMBs that have implemented sustainable business practices. Only 62 percent have implemented some type of company or employee-based efforts, which is nearly identical to the findings in the 2014 survey.

“There are measurable benefits of sustainability, and one of the best things we can do as owners and leaders of businesses is to listen to younger generations and give them an opportunity to make a positive difference to our bottom lines and to the world around us,” said Taylor. “Our survey showed that some SMBs often find it difficult to make or justify the investment in sustainability programs or prioritize them over other demands and initiatives. From our own experience with the Cox Conserves program, I can confirm that sustainability is as good for our business as it is for the environment.”