Clara Halvorsen (left), member of the Danish Youth Council and chairperson Gitte Haar from lighting company Fischer Lighting agreed that young people can help companies go green.

Photo: Uffe Hansen
20-06-19 DI Business News

SDGs and sustainability are necessary for recruiting young people

Young people can accelerate corporate sustainability initiatives, predicts Gitte Haar, board member at Fischer Lighting, Plus Pack and KLS Pureprint.

If you want to find an employee who is 20, 25 or 30 years old, it’s about making sustainability and the SDGs an integral part of your company’s brand.

That was one of the main takeaways at the manufacturing industry debate at the People’s Democratic Festival, Folkemødet, on the island of Bornholm. Here, chairperson Gitte Haar, Clara Halvorsen, who is campaign manager at World’s Best News, and Director at the Confederation of Danish Industry Leif Nielsen, discussed the role young people play in promoting corporate sustainability.

“Companies must work together more closely with young people. They’re at our heels because they have solutions, but in a new and inspiring way,” said Gitte Haar, who, in addition to her position as chairperson at Fischer Lighting, also sits on the boards of KLS Pureprint and Plus Pack.

“As I see it, companies will not survive the next ten years if they do not make a green and digital transition. And this is something young people need to help us with. Chairperson Gitte Haar, Fischer Lighting

The job must be meaningful

Clara Halvorsen, who is also a member of the Danish Youth Council, argued that companies have good chances of getting young people on board if they make sustainability a central part of their focus.

“Sustainability is one of the major employee magnets. For my generation, working somewhere meaningful is a driver. It’s not only about green transition, but companies who don’t want to leave the world worse off,” she said.

Director of the Danish Food and Drink Federation Leif Nielsen saw the same trends in the food sector, where sustainability, climate as well as health are the deciding factors for young people’s career choices. 

“Young people want a job that is also meaningful beyond the everyday. The interest in having a job that makes a difference exists already among primary schools students. It’s important to them, and companies need to respond to that,” said Leif Nielsen.

See also: Blog: 21 young, bright minds from MIT will spend the summer checking out Denmark

Current leaders must be on board

Gitte Haar added that it isn’t enough simply to focus on young people in order to make the company sustainable and include the SDGs in one’s business. In her view, this is an area in which there is a major divide between the leadership of established companies and young people, and it is therefore necessary to get current leaders on board with the green transition.

“I believe we have to start with education of the company owners and leaders in charge right now. By getting them to understand the agenda, we can get it integrated into the whole way we work at a company. And that is a major motivation factor all across a company that everyone can be proud of,” said Gitte Haar. 

See also: Students Hack: How to teach festivalgoers that their coffee is fair trade

Marie Thorsø Kousgaard

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