HR and Sustainability: Shaping the Future Together

We’ve been thinking about the relationship between Human Resources (HR) and sustainability lately and have some insights to share in this newsletter. More and more we are seeing HR as a driving force behind embedding sustainability practices into the core of corporate culture. By strategically aligning HR practices with sustainability goals, organizations can not only gain a competitive edge but also nurture a culture steeped in responsibility.

The Strategic Role of HR in Building a Responsible Business

HR’s influence extends beyond personnel management, shared services and business partners, acting as a key player in integrating sustainability into an organization’s strategic framework. This involves shaping policies, developing practices, and steering employee engagement towards more sustainable operations. HR initiatives such as targeted training, engagement programs, and recognition for sustainable practices are instrumental in fostering a culture that places a high value on sustainability. HR directors are essential in creating a workplace where building a sustainable future for all – not just the company – is a core value, influencing every aspect of organizational life.

Sustainability as a Competitive Advantage in Recruitment

If comp and ben are similar across the tech industry, Millennials and Gen Z will ask about wellbeing, grassroots initiatives, and DEI ambassadors in the interview process. If the recruiting team is the first interview hurdle, those colleagues must become mini experts on sustainability initiatives and be equipped to answer tough questions on emissions, clean and green supply chains, as well as regulations, from discerning candidates.

Baloons in Florence

Embedding the ‘S’ in ESG into Corporate Strategy

The social dimension of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria is HR’s home turf. HR plays a critical role in aligning “S” initiatives with business objectives, enhancing the brand’s reputation, attracting talent, and avoiding greenwashing. Again, this is data that candidates might ask about. Incorporating aspects such as leadership diversity, inclusion, worker safety, and community collaboration not only enriches organizational culture but also boosts performance. The data supporting the connection between diverse leadership and innovation is impossible to ignore as this BCG study indicates.But regulators are also increasingly scrutinizing companies for data on gender pay gap and female leadership on boards.

Leveraging HR for Environmental Impact

Green HR practices offer a direct avenue to reducing an organization’s environmental footprint. By promoting remote work and minimizing resource use, HR can contribute to environmental sustainability. In terms of branding and reputation, we can think of at least two tech companies who have strongly stated their commitment to environmental initiatives and faced a shitstorm from staff and green teams for still sponsoring Formula 1.

The Benefits for Culture

Sustainability initiatives are powerful tools for attracting and retaining talent, creating a workplace where employees feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment. The idea of purpose has gained traction in recent years, becoming the go-to reason for people to identify with a company. A great example:  Culture Amp, the employee experience platform, recently announced Esther Perel, psychotherapist, author, podcaster, and voice on relationships, as an external advisor – a move that promises to bring innovation to the product and renewed purpose to the company’s vision.

“A deeper statistical analysis of the survey data found a clear and predictive relationship between organizational readiness to address challenges of sustainability, inclusion, trust, and purpose and the likelihood of high performance on business and workforce outcomes” – Deloitte

Long Story Short

We’ve illuminated the critical role HR plays in weaving sustainability into the fabric of corporate strategy. By embracing sustainable HR practices, organizations are not only poised to attract and retain top talent but also to foster a culture of innovation and achieve their sustainability ambitions. We encourage HR professionals to harness these insights and resources, furthering their sustainability initiatives and contributing to a future that’s not just profitable, but sustainable and equitable for all.

Sources

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