Would you take a pay cut to join an organisation with an environmentally sound reputation and with sustainable development at the heart of its business practices? Maybe not, but a growing number of potential employees – especially graduates – are not only assessing a company’s ‘green’ credentials before considering applying, but are prepared to accept a more modest pay cheque as a way of ‘giving something back’. At least, that’s the experience of some of the companies we interviewed for our special sustainability features section this week.
‘Green issues’, ‘sustainability’, and ‘reducing your carbon footprint‘ are all phrases that were once tucked away in a paragraph on corporate social responsibility in a company’s annual report. But they are now the topics most likely to generate the biggest interest – and the biggest headlines.
It is becoming increasingly important for organisations of all sizes to have a genuine, clearly articulated sustainability policy – genuine being the operative word, because potential new recruits will spot a mile off if your chief executive is merely paying lip service to green issues because they are ‘fashionable’.
Organisations that embrace sustainability don’t just stick their policy on a noticeboard they ingrain it as a way of doing business, and reward employees for achieving key environmental targets. In this week’s Opinion, Standard Chartered Bank’s Debbie Whitaker points out that the business reasons for being sustainable go far beyond being seen to be ‘doing good’. The employer brand is at stake, and some companies are getting ahead of the game by using sustainability as a competitive differentiator that marks them out as an employer of choice.
The challenge is to take the debate from anecdotal to actual. In the dash to go green and look good, HR departments must ensure we don’t sidestep the need to provide robust data on the tenable links between a sustainability policy and commercial measures such as retention, engagement and, ultimately, profitability.