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Baby Boomers to Millennials – The Silver Tsunami Wave

Sustainability: A Lifeboat for Surviving the Silver Tsunami

Domtar, like many North American manufacturers today, faces a challenge – one that currently lurks like a monster wave on the horizon, yet will inevitably arrive in the near future.

The issue?  An aging workforce set to result in a surge of retirements within a relatively short period.

Each day, an estimated 10,000 Baby Boomers are retiring – nearly 4 million people annually. That means that many of our colleagues at Domtar are, or soon will be, eligible for retirement too.  Of our nearly 10,000 employees, almost 47% are at, or approaching retirement age.

This shift in the workforce from baby boomers to Millennials sometimes called the “silver tsunami” in reference to the wave of people that will soon age out of the workforce. Domtar has been upfront about the challenge.  In fact, the silver tsunami metaphor was addressed specifically in the company’s 2017 Sustainability Report, “Working Smart for the Long Term”.

But aside from the training of current employees in preparation for this event, Domtar has a secret weapon for attracting a new generation of talent – our longstanding leadership in sustainability.  From baby boomers to Millennials, Domtar continues to stay relevant through its sustainability goals.

“The sustainability work Domtar does is without question the main reason young employees are interested in talking to us about career opportunities,” said Kimberly Riley, Domtar’s college recruiting coordinator. “Millennials are looking for companies that are environmentally and socially responsible, and this is where Domtar has a competitive advantage.”

Meet the Millennials

Millennials, recently became the largest generation in the American workforce, and represent an enormous pool (see what I did there?) of potential employees.

Like generations before them, certain traits and clichés are used to characterize those born roughly between 1980-2000, including their propensity to be:

  • Lazy
  • Thrifty
  • Narcissistic
  • Technologically savvy

What’s clear, though, is that sustainability remains a significant motivator for this generation. According to a study by Cone Communications, 76% of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work (compared to the U.S. average of 58%).

Additionally, 75% of Millennials say they would actually take a pay cut to work for a company with a strong commitment to the environment. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is!

Speaking the Same Language

So how does this group’s fondness for sustainability benefit Domtar?  Since the company’s commitment to sustainability is integrated into every corner of its business, a fact frequently noted by our President and CEO, it illustrates that sustainability at Domtar is more than just talk.  In other words, at Domtar, everyone has a role in sustainability.

That means Millennials can play an active role in the process if they decide to work here.  And that’s important since 89% of Millennials say they want to be active participants in helping their company improve their sustainability practices.

One strategy the company uses to advertise this fact is the development of sustainability-oriented messaging aimed squarely at the Millennial audience.

For example, it’s not uncommon for a company to release a corporate video promoting their annual sustainability report.  However, what is uncommon is if that video stars not yet another executive rattling off key points from the report, but the company’s very own college interns noting their favorite takeaways.

Marketing in the face of this Silver Tsunami requires a different approach.  We recently did just that, recording a spot filmed in an upbeat, fast-paced style that is informative, entertaining and educational.

As the video weaves throughout the campus of Domtar’s corporate office, viewers get a taste for what really matters to these future influencers in a unique, and at times comical, fashion.

To see for yourself what facts resonated with Millennials working at Domtar, hear it directly from them in Future Influencers Weigh In on Sustainability Report:

This blog was previously published by author Dan Persica on, now and updated by Paige Goff, VP of Sustainability at Domtar.

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Nicholas Pearson
Marketing Specialist
Meredith Collins
Customer Marketing Manager
Danielle Sinclair
Vanecia Carr
Sr. Director Marketing Product & Management
John Parke
Customer Marketing Manager
Paige Goff
Vice President of Sustainability
Deborah Corn
Domtar Paper
Roland Basdeo
Graphic Designer
Susan Jones