Sustainability – who cares?

Sep 23, 2021

People are key to sustainability success. This post picks out some key issues for retention and recruitment

Customers. Employees. Investors. Job candidates. Examples from our clients include:

“A major customer has asked me what I’m doing on sustainability”
“I’ve been asked to present our action plan at an industry conference”
“I’m looking for finance and people are asking what my ESG impacts are”
“I see a gap in the market for a sustainability front runner”

Employees and job candidates are the focus of this blog. Prompted by a potential client describing their discomfort when running a virtual careers fair and repeatedly being asked how are they ensuring diversity and inclusion and what are they doing on sustainability. Now a client!

There are many surveys indicating increasing consumer preference for sustainable options, particularly when they are at the same price point as less sustainable alternatives. The same people are your current and future employees and customers. The trend is more prevalent in millennials (think under 40’s) and Generation Z (think under 25’s).

Then good news for businesses is that sustainability is a great tool to positively engage these people with your business. Intelligently and progressively improving your sustainability impacts, will improve your bottom line. And a large proposition of your people want to play their part. Which means higher engagement levels, productivity and profitability.

A key people aspect of the sustainability agenda is diversity and inclusion. It is an area many businesses struggle with, not through a lack of desire but because they don’t where to start. The drivers for addressing the issue, as with sustainability, are that done well it is just good business. High employee diversity relative to competitors has been identified by many, such as McKinsey and Gallup, as a strong predictor of market leading profitability. How to improve your diversity is beyond the scope of this article, but the key takeaway is that the people who care about sustainability, care about diversity and inclusion whether they see them as the same agenda or not.

Diversity

Staff retention is often a major business case element for investing in enhancing your business sustainability. Two frequently embraced sustainability goals related to this business driver are Health & Wellbeing and Education. A neglected element of both is providing clear performance expectations and objectives. Less of the job description, more of the measurement

This should start at the recruitment stage, painting a vivid picture of expectations so that you are setting people up for success from day 1. When people go to work, know they are meeting expectations and being supported to develop their careers, they are much more likely to remain engaged, happy and productive at work. Which tends to translate to being happy and healthy at home. What’s not to like?

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