A substantial number of young Canadians are willing to take a small pay cut, if it means they would be able to work for a business that practices social responsibility.
Those were the findings of an Algonquin survey completed in the days just prior to the third annual Corporate and Community Social Responsibility Conference held at the college on Nov. 16. The conference brought corporate and community leaders from across the continent to discuss how to advance socially responsible objectives.
The online survey, conducted by Abacus Data, found how social responsibility can be used as a recruitment tool to lure potential employees.
Although 50 per cent of those surveyed said they would not take a pay cut, the numbers were much different for the youngest age group surveyed. It showed that, of those between the ages of 18 and 39, 56 per cent of respondents would be willing to take a small pay cut to work for a socially responsible corporation.
This comes as no surprise to Ross Gallinger, an executive at IAMGOLD Corporation, a mining and exploration company.
“We have young employees that come in, and the first thing they want to know is what [we] are doing in terms of social responsibility,” he said. “They want to know that their values are in line with the company’s values. They don’t want to see a miss-match, otherwise, they’ll leave.”
Some may think that the importance of social issues would take a back seat to corporate profit during the current slow economic recovery of global markets.
However, Gallinger believes the push for the corporate world to be socially engaged will not be hindered by the slowdown. He points to the younger generation as one of the reasons behind this.
“There is no pendulum that is going to swing back the other way. The younger generation that is coming up now has greater expectations for business going forward,” said Gallinger.
In creating a corporate culture that places emphasis on social issues, he believes it’s not only the right thing to do; it makes good business sense.
“In the mining business, if you don’t get that social aspect done, communities will stop you dead.”
Gallinger cites his company’s experience in Tanzania as an example. Before starting an exploration project in that country, IAMGOLD Corporation, in consultation with the affected communities, drilled wells and provided water pumps.
“We can’t pick up our mines and move them to somewhere else where they like us. We’re there because the resources are there in the ground. So we have to deal with those issues on a daily basis,” he said.
The survey also looked at Canadians’ buying preferences. It indicated that 62 per cent of Canadians were willing to pay more for a product, if the company selling the product was being socially responsible. On the purchase of a $100 item, respondents were willing to pay on average of $8.62 more.
However, only one in five Canadians were able to identify such a company.
“I think that is a message for those corporations that are trying to be socially responsible, and most are now, to communicate that message. Most Canadians are unaware of what [they] are doing,” said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data.
The survey involved responses by 1,001 people who were randomly selected from an online panel of 4,000. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The survey was commissioned by Algonquin College for the conference, which Abacus Data completed at no cost as an event sponsor.
Gallinger and Coletto were two of the many speakers that spoke at the conference’s seminars. Other notable speakers were Paul Heinbecker, permanent representative to the UN and Member of Parliament, John McKay.