As COP26 is underway, a new report finds that close to half of employees feel dubious towards their companies’ environmental, social and governance policies. 

Close to half of senior employees in the UK (43 per cent) believe that their company is guilty of greenwashing, according to a new report by Advanced.

Greenwashing is a term used to describe companies and businesses who falsely mislead their consumers to make them believe the company or services provided are sustainable when they are not.

The research also found that many employees are concerned that their bosses are prioritising increasing profit (47 per cent) over hitting environmental targets (37 per cent).

This data comes at a time where more countries and businesses alike are trying to implement more eco-friendly policies in order to meet wider environmental targets.

As mandated in the Climate Change Act 2008, the UK is tasked with reducing its carbon emissions by 80 per cent before 2050.

There is also a growing awareness among organisations that this can come with business benefits including building a solid reputation, having a positive impact on communities and giving them an edge against competition.

However, young people specifically were shown to be seeing through businesses’ claims about supporting the environment.

Over half (56 per cent) of 18-24 year olds say their company has been guilty of greenwashing while over four in five (83 per cent) say they understand their organisation’s carbon footprint.

The study indicates that it is young people who wish to align themselves with companies which are environmentally friendly and working towards positive change, claiming this should be a key priority for businesses looking to attract and retain this group.

However, overall, there is significant progress being made with almost half of businesses (47 per cent) educating staff and customers about the measures their organisation is taking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Additionally, a third (34 per cent) are downsizing their offices while a similar number (32 per cent) are purchasing carbon offsets such as planting trees.

Gordon Wilson, CEO at Advanced, stated:

Environmental issues matter to everyone, but the young have a vested interest and care about working for an organisation that wants to make a positive impact on the planet.

Having a solid policy with strategies to ensure it is delivered is essential for attracting employees – as well as customers and investors – and for helping build confidence from suppliers and other stakeholders.

It’s time for all businesses to get ahead of the curve on this issue, as the UK government can, and will, begin to stamp down on businesses that are found to be greenwashing.

*This research has been outlined in Advanced’s report “The Advanced Trends Survey Report 2021”. This was carried out online by Research Without Barriers – RWB – between 3rd September 2021 and 17th September 2021. The sample comprised 1,078 senior decision makers working in organisations in the UK with 100+ employees.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.