The relationship between employees and business leaders is changing, and it's all down to the influence of one generation in particular.
Millennials are often credited for bringing new ideas into the workplace, as a well as a refusal to accept some of the ideals held by organisations in the past. In many cases, leaders are finding that this generation has its own unique views on what reputational risk management should entail and how businesses should respond to wider social concerns.
A recent study from Bentley University found that the influence of millennials is actually driving corporate social responsibility (CSR) objectives in many businesses. Increasingly, being an ethical company is not just about maintaining public perception, but being attractive to employees as well.
Millennials bring a new focus to CSR
Bentley University found that with millennials growing more influence within the world's organisations, the drive for CSR objectives has shifted to these employees. With the university predicting that millennials will be the dominant age group in the workforce by 2020, this is likely to be the start of an ongoing trend.
The university's researchers found the overwhelming majority of millennials see an importance in working for organisations with a strong CSR strategy. According to Bentley University, 86 per cent of millennials surveyed want to work for companies that have proven to be ethical and socially responsible.
Sociology Professor Jonathan White found that these concerns are coming through in the job interview process, reinforcing the idea that a company's public perception influences more than just their financial performance.
"When our students are being interviewed by potential employers, they aren't asking them about their accounting, finance, computer and business skills," he explained. "They're asking about their civic skills, leadership, critical thinking skills and how they've applied them."
Are organisations responding to the challenge?
It's important that businesses communicate their CSR objectives both publicly and to their employees, as the value in these initiatives lies in creating a positive perception of the company's actions and role in its community.
KPMG found that the number of organisations reporting on various CSR criteria is increasing, especially with regards to environmental concerns. The findings complement a recent study from the University of Notre Dame which reported an increased correlation between CSR and corporate social irresponsibility.
In many cases, organisations are even viewing CSR objectives as a way to amend past indiscretions and preserve their reputation with the public.
Reputational risk management will continue to evolve with the changing demographics in the workplace, especially as millennials continue to demand a greater focus on CSR.