Sustainable businesses attract employees

A study by Unily has found more than half of employees want to work for climate-conscious companies

Companies are increasingly mentioning the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in their reporting, although the percentage of businesses with specific strategies around them remains low.

A report last year by PwC found 72% of companies mention the SDGs in their reporting, but just a quarter include them in their business strategy. Only 14% include specific targets in their strategies.

“Despite there still being disconnects between rhetoric and action, there is a strong drive for this decade to be one where global action on sustainable development is made and successes achieved, driven by business leadership,” a study, Future of the sustainable workplace in the age of COVID-19 and climate change, by intranet provider Unily, commented.

This study, which surveyed 2,000 UK office-based workers, also found businesses’ sustainable strategies may well be what attracts employees. Some 65% of respondents said they were more likely to work for a company with a strong environmental policy.

Earlier this month, ESG Clarity reported only 3% of finance professionals across the world wanted to work entirely from the office post-Covid-19. This was echoed in Unily’s study, which found flexible working to be one of 12 key changes to help businesses create shifts in energy use and reduce their carbon footprint.

The study found a company’s environmental ethics concerned 72% of the respondents, and some 83% said they feel their company is not doing enough when it comes to sustainability.

“The last two decades have seen a rise in ‘green’ office strategies that range from assessing the energy, waste and water consumption through to sustainable procurement and behaviour change initiatives,” the report said.

“But now we are seeing the elevation of change towards business model transformation for the circular economy and significant disruptions to the way we work as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.”

It also highlighted the tell-tale signs of good businesses when it comes to sustainability. These include good leaders who see incorporating climate action and sustainability into their work as giving their business a competitive advantage. It also includes businesses that use circular waste management systems, rather than linear.

An example of a company leading through climate positive action is Microsoft, which in early 2020 committed to being 100% carbon positive by 2030, mitigating all current emissions and offsetting all historical ones by 2050, the report added.

Other businesses it highlighted include BlackRock, mining giant Rio Tinto and Delta Air Lines, along with Amazon, Apple, and Tesla, which are among the technology giants committed in some way to reducing their carbon footprints.

Report author Leyla Acaroglu, noted: “Ways of working have changed dramatically over the last 100 years. From farming to factories to technology and now services, we live in an age of rapidly evolving disruptions to where, how and why we do work. Every organisation will be at a different stage…the most important thing is getting started.”

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Natasha Turner

Natasha is global deputy editor at ESG Clarity, part of the Bonhill Group, and has been a financial journalist for six years. She has been shortlisted for Story of the Year and Investment Journalist of...