Jeremy Darroch: Why I’m listening to the next generation

Sensemaking / Jeremy Darroch: Why I’m listening to the next generation

While we hear a lot from chief executives about sustainability, much less is known about what the business leaders of tomorrow think, says the Chief Executive of Sky. But a new study sheds some light. 

10 Apr 2012

While we hear a lot from chief executives about sustainability, much less is known about what the business leaders of tomorrow think, says the Chief Executive of Sky. But a new study sheds some light.

While we hear a lot from chief executives about sustainability, much less is known about what the business leaders of tomorrow think. That’s why we undertook the Sky Future Leaders Study. We wanted to better understand their attitudes to some of the key issues, including how they think business today is performing on sustainability, whether they feel they’re being equipped with the skills and knowledge they will need, and what they themselves would do differently in the future.

It’s highly encouraging to see that tomorrow’s business leaders are already engaged with sustainability and have a huge appetite for it to be part of their careers. They have coined the phrase ‘the sustainable generation’ as a way of describing themselves, which seems both apt and accurate to me.

One of the biggest challenges they’ll face is dealing with the long-term impact of the economic downturn. So it’s also encouraging that they see sustainability as a priority, even in tough operating conditions.

But something that concerns me – and it should concern everyone involved in business today – is that too many companies aren’t effectively communicating their motives for acting sustainably. For businesses to maintain their relationships with existing customers, and attract new ones, they need to improve communications around their values. This study shows that, by integrating sustainability into how businesses operate today, we can ensure our future leaders are ready to rise to the challenge, so that our companies will succeed, and go on contributing to society for many years to come.

Future leader viewpoints

The Sky Future Leaders Study interviewed 750 corporate graduate trainees, high-potential middle managers and MBA students, and
found that:

  • 96% see themselves getting involved in sustainability in their careers
  • 79% cite the vision and values of a company as an important factor when looking at potential employers
  • more than two thirds (69%) believe that a company’s values and ethics are essential in building personal trust in a business.

“Marking yourself out as someone who’s interested in sustainability is important in terms of your progression.”
MBA student

“Sustainability is a growth area, and I think there will be growing demand for people with relevant experience and expertise in it.” – Graduate trainee

“The initial work to establish sustainability as something worth tackling has already been done. My role will be to expand what my company does.” – Middle manager

BSkyB is a Forum for the Future partner.
Photo: iStockphoto / thinkstock

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