- Nuveen’s “Third Annual Responsible Investing Survey” of over 1,000 affluent investors found there was increased interest in working for, buying from, and investing in socially responsible companies. This is even more true among the millennials surveyed.
- Some 92% of millennials agreed with the statement “I care more about having a positive impact on society than doing well financially” compared to 52% of nonmillennials.
- We interviewed a handful of millennials, asking them what makes their generation different. They answered: access to information, aligning themselves with brands on social media, and growing up in more comfortable economic circumstances than their parents and grandparents.
Millennials are more interested in working for, buying from, and investing in companies that share their values than older generations, according to data collected by Nuveen for its “Third Annual Responsible Investing Survey.”
Nuveen worked with Harris Poll to conduct an online survey of over 1,000 affluent investors in June 2017. The people surveyed were all US residents with over $100,000 in investable assets who were working with a financial adviser.
Survey showed increased interest in social responsibility
The survey showed increased interest in social and environmental concerns in shopping, job, and investment decisions over the past two years.
The most recent results showed 72% agree with the statement “I prefer to shop for brands that have environmentally sustainable business practices” — up from 61% two years earlier.
Sixty-four percent of respondents said, “I care more about having a positive impact on society than doing well financially,” which is up from 49% in 2015.
This trend seems to be driven by millennials. Twenty-seven percent of the survey’s participants were millennials and between the ages of 21 and 34. There was a stark difference between the group of millennials surveyed compared to older participants regarding issues of social responsibility.
Over 90% of millennials said they’d prefer to work for a company that had a positive social and environmental impact on the world, compared to 70% of nonmillennials.Ninety-two percent of millennials said, “I care more about having a positive impact on society than doing well financially,” which is drastically higher than the 52% of nonmillennials who agreed.
And millennials may not look at socially responsible investing as just a complement to their portfolio. According to Nuveen’s survey, 92% of high-net-worth millennials are somewhat or very likely to put their entire allocation in responsible investment options.
What makes millennials different?
Based on this research, it is clear that millennials feel different about social responsibility than the generations before them. We asked some of our friends and colleagues at INSIDER Inc. what has changed. The millennials we interviewed were not a part of the original survey conducted by Nuveen and would not necessarily be considered affluent investors.
Some of the millennials we spoke with said that the biggest change was increased access to information. Kevin, 25, said, “If I want to know how climate change is affecting a marginalized group in a developing country, I can Google that and find out in 10 seconds.”
Dave, 33, added, “The more stuff I read, the more issues I find out that I am interested in and want to pay attention to.”
A few millennials we spoke with mentioned how it easy it was to find out how companies treat their employees and customers.
Shayanne, 25, said signaling on social media had made her and her friends take more personal responsibility for the brands they align with.”With the rise of social media, I think it’s more and more important for us to be associated with brands and companies that share our same values and morals.”
“I support brands, companies, that are able to make that positive social impact and allow me to be a part of that.”
Caitlin, 32, and Lauren, 23, both said what made them more socially conscious than their grandparents was that their economic situation was more secure. Lauren said her grandparents grew up during the Great Depression, so they had a tendency to hoard things just in case they needed them. Caitlin said her grandparents “were focusing more on a survival mode of purchasing,” whereas she had some financial security and access to a lot more information.
All the millennials we spoke with said they’d be willing to sacrifice financial gains — by paying more for products, accepting a lower salary, or limiting their investment options — to have a positive impact on society.