What today’s CEOs need to know to attract and retain tomorrow’s leaders

Yesterday, some of the most powerful CEOs in corporate America declared that driving shareholder value can no longer be their sole business objective. A group of 181 CEOs representing the Business Roundtable claimed that corporations have a responsibility to balance the needs of all their stakeholders – from employees to local communities.

Several societal trends have pushed corporations to look beyond their fiduciary responsibilities and consider their impact on society, including pressure from employees.

Nearly 40% of millennials – now the largest generation in the American workforce – report choosing a job because of the employer’s approach to corporate sustainability. Five years of statistics from EDF Climate Corps reflect this trend: Demand for climate-related jobs has nearly doubled in the last five years.

Millennials are different from previous generations in their preference for purpose over paycheck. They want to bring change.

Here are three insights I’ve identified from EDF Climate Corps’ pool of graduate student applicants that should matter to any CEO seeking to recruit and retain talent. The program receives over 1,000 applications each year and has an acceptance rate of 10%.

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Building Energy Efficiency: “Cities are the answer! What was the question?”

Doug Foy, prominent Massachusetts-based environmental strategist, caught my attention with this quote at the Harvard Business School Think Tank on Energy, Environment and Business.  Doug’s point was that the 100 major metropolitan areas in the U.S. are a key lever for addressing carbon emission reductions.  He cited that while nationally, 40-50% of carbon emissions come from buildings, in cities, that number goes up to 70%.

To address the issue of building energy efficiency, the focus has to be on strategies that are tied to long-term performance

Ken Hubbard of Hines, an international real estate firm, expanded further on the building energy efficiency marketplace citing that there are 74 billion square feet of existing building stock, which is replaced at 1% per year.  Hence, he emphasized that to address the issue of building energy efficiency, the focus has to be on retrofits and other supporting strategies, such as financial incentives that are tied to longer term building performance and metering. Read more