As we’ve heard from COP27, the window for meaningful climate action is narrowing. What is becoming ever clearer for leaders in the world of work, is that our workforces care about this issue, and they expect us to care too. Many employees want to work for businesses that have a social conscience, and sustainability is one important element that is attracting workers to companies.

In their report The future of work – A journey to 2022, PWC surveyed 10,000 people in China, Germany, India, the UK and the USA. The report found that 65% of people around the world wanted to work for an organisation with a powerful social conscience.
However, the latest salary guide by Hays UK saw an interesting clash of opinions between employers and employees. The report found: “An organisation’s commitment to sustainability is an important consideration to 78% of employees when searching for a new role. However, fewer employers (68%) believe that this commitment to sustainability is important in helping them to attract staff.”  
Simply put, in a world where skills shortages are rife, embedding sustainability into your culture is a positive action for businesses to take to attract and retain the best people.
I’m going to talk to you about how you can integrate this important issue into your Employee Value Proposition (EVP), which will help draw the attention of the top talent you need and highlight the part you are playing in the drive to a more sustainable and green future.

1.  Avoid greenwashing

Be genuine in your ambitions and culture. As sustainability has made its way further into the public consciousness, and more companies have shown they are taking the climate crisis seriously, there are some who are willing to exaggerate their own efforts.
Fiona Place, our Global Head of Sustainability, recently wrote a blog giving tips for candidates looking for their first green job. She said: “Greenwashing is a practice that organisations use to make themselves seem more environmentally conscious than they actually are. From an employee perspective, any organisation that is misleading the public is unlikely to match your ambitions or invest in supporting you.”
The reality is that your current and potential employees can see right through attempts to fabricate your story. Andy Gomarsall MBE, Executive Chairman of N2S spoke to Hays about greenwashing. He said: “There’s a lot of big companies struggling with this because they don’t have a good story yet and then they’re basically making up stories. We are sometimes blind to this, but that’s not the case for the younger generation.”
Ensuring you have independent verification of your progress will help avoid greenwashing. At Hays, we work alongside Climate Partner who provide this for us and advise us along our journey to Net Zero. We are also report to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and Ecovadis, who provide trusted business sustainability ratings.
If you want to embed sustainability into your EVP, you need to be genuine and make it part of your culture. To bring true value and meaning, the business and we as leaders must walk, talk and align behind our commitments.
Natura & Co are a company to be inspired by. Their Commitment to Life strategy is a set of bold targets to “tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues: addressing the climate crisis and protecting the Amazon, ensuring equality and inclusion, and shifting our business towards circularity and regeneration.” Their progress is publicly available on their website.
2. Communicate the opportunities

The transition to a green economy represents vast opportunity. There are many new jobs being created, or categories expanded and chances to learn new skills. This is taking place across multiple industries, not just the obvious ones like renewable energies, but also finance, fashion and transport, to name a few.
The demand is there, too. In another recent poll we ran on LinkedIn, 81 per cent of the 25,791 respondents told us that they are interested in a green job.
The switch to a more sustainable future will see companies hire sustainability specialists for the first time in their histories. There will also be significant chances to upskill the current workforce to capitalise on the opportunities. Electrical engineers will need to learn how to install solar PV, whilst design teams will learn how to adopt green design principles.
Providing your employees with opportunities to learn new skills and get involved has the potential to unleash a diverse range of new market opportunities, as well as helping to solve your own sustainability challenges.
You can also support your employees to get involved beyond what your business does on a day-to-day basis. Volunteering days can be a clever way of getting your workforce mobilised on important issues such as sustainability.
At Hays this is demonstrated in the work we have done to build our social purpose through our commitment to DE&I, Net Zero and our global volunteering and fundraising programme, ‘Helping for your tomorrow’.
Hays employees can take a volunteering day to support sections of our communities who we know are underrepresented in the workplace.
We also encourage charity days that help educate our colleagues on sustainability, such as beach clean-ups in France and picking litter at parks in Canada.
3. Lead from the front

Leading from the front on important issues such as sustainability will help you attract top talent. If you aren’t committed, it will show throughout the organisation.
For instance, Hays has committed to Science-Based Targets to support a pathway to a Net Zero economy. This also reflects the need to respond to our changing employee and customer preferences to working with companies with a clear commitment to Net Zero.
Ensure senior leaders are involved and communicating to the rest of the business. At Hays, our Global Net Zero Working Group is made up of senior directors from each Hays region. As well as identifying and implementing new policies, their role is to communicate our progress to our employees. Communicating these updates ensures the whole business is bought in and are championing your sustainability journey.
As a result, your hiring managers can provide information to potential new recruits when questions about sustainability are asked at the interview stage.
Better yet, provide this information upfront. Beat your own drum and weave your sustainability story into external EVP positioning, such as your career websites. After all, why should candidates have to ask at the interview stage? 

To enhance your employer brand through sustainability, there are a few things to remember and to action.
  1. Provide the tools necessary for your teams to learn about the opportunities in the green economy.
  2. Communicate them effectively and ensure there is an inclusive culture.
  3. Don’t overstate your story. It is paramount to avoid greenwashing.
  4. Walk, talk and align behind your commitments. As a leader, you are key to ensuring the success of your sustainability strategies.
I hope you have found this blog helpful. Please join the conversation in the comments section on LinkedIn and share how your EVP plans are developing.

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