Hands holding puzzle pieces bringing them together with sustainability icons printed on them.

How Can Organizations Demonstrate Their Commitment to Sustainability?

Originally published on Inspiring Workplaces. Written by Fuel50 CEO and Founder, Anne Fulton – the Intelligent Talent Marketplace powered by Skills, Insights & Architecture.

As Millennials and Gen Z employees begin to dominate the workforce, the new generation of workers are changing the way organizations manage their societal and environmental impact. These employees are more particular about where they work, placing high importance on working for companies that align with both their professional and personal values – a major one being sustainability and social responsibility.

Research by Deloitte confirms that climate change is a major concern for the modern employee, with over 40% of Millennials and Gen Z workers changing jobs or planning to do so because their employer has failed to address climate concerns. On the other side of the coin, 68% of employees are more inclined to accept positions from companies that have a strong sustainability ethos.

These figures indicate that organizational sustainability is no longer an optional standpoint, but rather, an imperative strategy to strengthen talent attraction efforts and build employee loyalty, productivity, and retention.

It is crucial for employers to understand these generations and continue to drive progress on the challenges that matter most to them. This will not only help boost productivity and retain talent—it will ultimately build trust and value for business in society more broadly. – Michele Parmalee, Global Deputy CEO and Chief People and Purpose Officer, Deloitte

Close The Sustainability ‘Knowing-Doing’ Gap

According to a study by BCG/MIT, 90% of executives find sustainability to be important, however, only 60% of companies incorporate sustainability in their strategy, and merely 25% have sustainability incorporated in their business model.

This is known as ‘the knowing–doing gap’, a disconnect between knowledge and action, where organizations are aware of the need to support sustainability but fail to take effective action. This gap can negatively impact an organization’s reputation and EVP, making it difficult to attract talent and retain existing employees who are now prioritizing sustainable practices.

Furthermore, failure to act on sustainability can deter investors. Research by Fuel50 states that organizations that appear uncommitted to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) objectives risk losing investors and may experience reputational damage detrimental to their participation in the economy.

Forbes reiterates this fact, pointing out that it is becoming even more critical for organizations to address the gap between knowing and doing, and take meaningful steps toward organizational sustainability.

The Road to Organizational Sustainability

Author of Organizational Risk Management and Sustainability, Robert B. Pojasek, defines sustainability as the “capability of an organization to transparently manage its responsibilities for environmental stewardship, social well-being, and economic shared value over the long term.” According to the book, organizations must start by defining their responsibilities as they relate to social responsibility, some of these may include:

  • Doing what you have committed to do
  • Always giving your best effort
  • Being held accountable for your choices
  • Helping others when they need help
  • Being fair
  • Helping to make a better world

To reinforce these responsibilities in your organization’s daily operations, a dedicated code of conduct must be established. This will outline how these responsibilities will be embedded into what employees do every day. Organizations that embrace these responsibilities as core values – making it a part of the organization’s culture and DNA – are more likely to build long-lasting, sustainable businesses.

The code of conduct typically include the following guidelines:

  • Be accountable for impacts on the environment, society, and the economy
  • Be transparent in decisions and activities that impact responsibilities
  • Behave ethically
  • Respect, consider, and respond to the interests of stakeholders
  • Accept that respect for the rule of law is mandatory

Of course, each organization will have its own set of unique responsibilities that reflect its mission and goals. Once these are defined, organizations must build awareness among employees and support the development of ESG-related skills and capabilities for individuals, leaders, and the organization. Fuel50’s Capability Trends Report on The Sustainability Revolution identifies these skills to enable employees to develop a deeper understanding of ESG factors and their impact so they can effectively identify risks, solve problems, and improve operational efficiency while reducing costs.

Keep the Momentum Going

As your organization deepens its commitment to sustainability and adjusts its practices to support a workforce driven by Millennials and Gen Z, benefits will begin to emerge. Added brand value, increased productivity and efficiency, improved talent attraction, and higher retention are just some of the benefits that will help your organization sustain long-term success.

Understanding the most effective HR strategies, trends, research, and practices is essential for organizations to thrive in today’s fast-paced environment. Keep up to date with Fuel50’s latest learnings and research here.


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