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  • Writer's pictureMegan Wood

Why a company’s commitment to sustainability is key to attracting good talent

I came across a statistic today that one in four people would leave their job if their workplace wasn’t committed to sustainability. It got me thinking. What does a strong sustainability policy look like, how easy is it to implement and can a commitment to sustainability play a key part in attracting great talent?

How important is your company’s commitment to sustainability?

A recent Mercer NZ report revealed that “94% of employees expect their employer to pursue a sustainability agenda that balances financial results with social issues, diversity/equity, and environmental impact”. So, put simply, employers today need to be putting as much time, money and affort into environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG), as they do driving profits.

The first step, for any company, is to appoint the right people to oversee the ESG policy of the company and the implementation of it. A good sustainability leader will invite others within the company to contribute to areas of the ESG policy that they are passionate about.

In my role as a HR consultant I advise my clients that their approach to sustainability can’t just be limited to annual reports and the odd announcement from the leadership team. CEOs need to be talking about sustainability often and that message needs to be effectively communicated to the rest of the company. Furthermore, giving your people the opportunity to contribute to your company’s sustainability efforts in their own tangible way can be a huge factor in retaining and attracting talent

What are some positive changes any busines can make?

The first step towards positive change is to asses where your business is currently at in terms of its sustainability. This includes everything from waste reduction to sustainable packaging, community action and staff wellbeing. Once you have a clear picture of where your company is at currently you can look to make more positive changes. Ways to do this include:

  1. Establish a charitable foundation, or, if you already have one, engage directly with local charities and community groups to ensure that your donations are going where it is most needed.

  1. Empower your staff to participate in volunteer work, offering bonus leave to enable them to do so.

  1. Look at your suppliers - everything from stationery to technology - who are they and are they an ethical and sustainable business?

  1. Ask your staff where they would like to see your company focus their sustainability efforts, that way your people can play an active role in your company’s positive change.

Why being sustainable is not just good for the planet, it’s good business

When I talk to recruiters they tell me that the biggest questions that an applicant wants to know about a role are 1) what is the work-from-home policy? and 2) what is the company’s ethical, environmental and social approach to doing business?

Good talent are in high demand, which means that employers need to do even more to stand out. While once all that was needed to attract the right people was to offer enough money, employers are now looking for more. Time and again I hear potential applicants say that who they are working for is just as important as what they will be doing in the role. More importantly, the right people want to know that they have a purpose, that what they do at work, every day, is making a difference.


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