Young professionals setting the standard for ESG practices.

Young professionals setting the standard for ESG practices.

Young professionals are well-placed to shape and influence the adoption of ESG standards in the mining sector, according to WA Mining Club Young Professionals Chair Jordan Rogers.

Ms Rogers said that the next generation of young professionals who will move into leadership roles in the next five to 10 years will be well-placed to provide the support required for true innovation which would be needed if companies were to benefit from ESG.

“Many of us are the ones learning, studying, and helping drive the conversation around sustainability and ESG,” Ms Rogers said.

“The better educated the next generation of leaders in industry are about ESG, the more effectively the industry will work together as a whole to deliver the necessary changes to really make a difference.”

According to Deloitte, Millennials and Gen Zs are more persistent, more vocal, and more apt than others to question and upset the status quo.

The Global Millennial Survey Report, now in its 10th year, found that the next generation of professionals were not hesitant to call for government intervention to fix what they couldn’t, but were also standing ready to embrace personal responsibility.

Ms Rogers said that many young professionals, herself included, were seeking much more than a pay cheque from their employer.

“We seek to align our employer’s values with our own and are more than willing to walk away from positions that don’t,” she said.

“Personally, I believe everyone has a part to play, and as the future leaders of this industry, it is vital for us to invest in our future now.

“That includes where we invest the critical years of our lives while we develop into those leaders.”

The Deloitte report found this sentiment was shared by 44 per cent of millennials and 49 per cent of Gen Zs, who said they had made choices over the type of work they were prepared to do and the organisations for which they were willing to work based on their personal ethics.

However, the sentiment extended beyond their career choices.

“As consumers, (millennials and Gen Zs) often put their wallets where their values are, stopping or initiating relationships based on how companies treat the environment, protect personal data, and position themselves on social and political issues,” the report said.

“It’s not unexpected, then, that millennials and Gen Zs are actively seeking to influence policy and business actions on matters that are important to them, including environmental issues, inequality and discrimination.

“They see each at a tipping point and seem eager to provide the necessary push to hold institutions accountable, in order to bring about change.”

Ms Rogers believed this willingness to invest in companies that share the same vision to help develop and drive ESG standards would make the biggest difference.

“I would like to think that ESG practices would develop high standards and consistency across the board in the near future, but I know that’s unrealistic,” she said.

“If companies can’t attract talent because they aren’t aligned with working towards a more sustainable future, they will need to get on board or be left behind.”

In her view, mining companies needed a complete cultural change if they were to realise the true potential of ESG.

“Companies need a true cultural shift so that from the top-down and bottom-up, every single employee understands and is committed to the delivery of the ESG plan,” Ms Rogers said.

“By driving a cultural shift, the company sets itself up for long term success and value delivery for their shareholders.”

However, while young professionals were making a difference, it was still up to current leaders to set the standards for ESG.

“Young professionals are a vital part of the conversation and will help shape and drive the standards for ESG, but the buck ultimately stops with those currently in charge,” Ms Rogers said.

Ms Rogers found that the WA Mining Club was helping to set this cultural change by regularly facilitating the conversation around ESG.

“The WA Mining Club supports and promotes ESG by providing a platform where this and many other important topics can be discussed in a respectful and factual manner,” she said.

“For example, our May luncheon and June Young Professionals Sundowner provided insightful panels of experts focussing on sustainability, climate change, and carbon neutrality.

“It’s a topic that we seem to revisit at least once a year, as it is so dynamic and rapidly developing.

“It’s important that this topic stays in regular conversation, not just for our members, but for our industry.”