A step towards sustainability
It’s becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to avoid the topic of sustainability, both on an individual level and in the various institutions that make up our communities, including, of course, businesses. Regardless of their size or industry, the corporate and financial world is quickly realizing that there is no long-term profitability or survival unless sustainability is part of the overall strategy, according to DoGood People.
In 2012 the United Nations published its 17 sustainability goals for the world to reach by 2030. Many companies have translated those 17 goals into session level goals for their business activities. This comes at a time when public companies must now disclose information about their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. That is to say, they are now held responsible for the long-term consequences of their acts. Increasing the importance of implementing these practices, higher than before.
According to UNLEASH, research has shown the extent to which employees increasingly want climate-positive action and with younger generations increasingly concerned about the environment, sustainability is yet another string HR must add to its ever-expanding bow.
Younger generations and sustainability
Embracing sustainability practices and initiatives have a clear connection to a good influence on a company’s human resources and revenues. Indeed, there is an increasing trend among job searchers to be drawn to firms that adopt sustainable or social activities, such as community involvement or ethical governance.
This is particularly true among young or new talent looking for work, who appears to be much more attracted or drawn to environmentally friendly organizations; also, they are more likely to stay in a company long term if it has a sustainable strategy.
A 2021 Deloitte survey found that more than four in 10 millennials and Gen Zs agree that we have already hit the point of no return when it comes to the environment and that it’s too late to repair the damage. However, in slightly more positive news, a majority are optimistic that peoples’ commitment to take personal action to address environmental and climate issues will be greater post-pandemic.
How to build a sustainable culture
A sustainability culture is one that is aligned with people and the planet. And although there are many definitions of culture, an individual’s behavior is probably the one thing that defines the latter best.
The journey to establishing a sustainability culture begins with a vision that recognizes sustainability as a core value of the company. Because principles are what motivate people throughout their lives. A sustainability strategy should have a positive impact now and expand as a company grows.
However, it is essential that we can translate these values onto tangible elements in order to work with people through specific practices. This is, take the organizational sustainable values and engage people into adopting them as theirs too.
According to DoGood People, a successful sustainable transformation or evolution is one that takes every area of business and applies the necessary changes to align them with sustainability principles, for example, ESG (Enviromental, Social & corporate Governance) criteria, SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) or other relevant global targets.
This entails tying sustainability not only to the strategy, but also to the identity of the organization’s products, services, processes, and people. This last point is particularly important: establishing a sense of purpose among the individuals who actually run the company and can enable the necessary changes.
There are so many factors that HR is now involved in, including occupational health, wellbeing, equality and diversity, strategic planning, charity work, improving the community, counseling services, and the wider impact that the organization has on its environment. This is not just for larger corporate organizations, says Emma del Torto, the managing director of EffectiveHRM.
The role of CEO’s
To ensure that sustainability remains a key focus, HR will need to continue to create strong links with the C-suite. It’ll then need to proactively communicate changes and progress to the entire workforce, which will likely hold the function accountable if commitments aren’t fulfilled.
All of this will necessitate a considerable shift in how HR operates, as HR does not often make decisions in such cases. CEOs around the world, though, will have to adapt as well.
“CEOs may have developed a sustainability plan to transform their organization, but without the help of HR to communicate this, such plans can lose their value, especially within recruitment and retention strategies,” says Alan Price, CEO of Bright HR.
HR teams have always been focused on people and achieving the business’s sustainability goals would be practically impossible without their engagement in including employees in the project.