Value in having a robust sustainability strategy


Tom Osborne, managing director of Hays Malaysia, (file pic) said: “There is real long-term value in establishing a robust sustainability strategy, committing to it by setting clear objectives, and ensuring its success. While there are clear moral reasons for doing so, there are also advantages in terms of attracting and retaining key talent, as it is becoming increasingly important to workers."

PETALING JAYA: A strong and integrated sustainability strategy enables organisations to better attract and retain employees, according to recruiting experts Hays.

Environmental, social and governance (ESG), which assesses the sustainability and societal impact of businesses, has gathered significant momentum in recent years. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many businesses into survival mode and in some cases, sustainability efforts slipped down priority lists.

As the world begins to recover from the global pandemic, businesses must again move substantiality back near the top of their agenda, it added.

HSBC’s 2019 “Made for the Future” report found that 24% of organisations said that one of the driving forces behind their investments in sustainability was to improve their ability to recruit and retain the best people.

Tom Osborne, managing director of Hays Malaysia, said: “There is real long-term value in establishing a robust sustainability strategy, committing to it by setting clear objectives, and ensuring its success. While there are clear moral reasons for doing so, there are also advantages in terms of attracting and retaining key talent, as it is becoming increasingly important to workers.

“In a skill-short world, this is vitally important, as it can help them avoid missing out on recruiting top talent. There are also the commercial advantages too, as it is just as important to existing and potential customers.”

Business travel accounted for 12% of global transport emissions pre-Covid-19 in 2019, equating to 915 million tonnes of carbon dioxide.

“However, since the beginning of the pandemic there has been a significant reduction in travel, there has been an overall reduction in air pollution of up to 60%, which includes not only international travel but people’s daily commute too.”

He said the need to work remotely has had a huge impact on carbon emissions, as there has been a large decrease in the number of people travelling.

“It’s important that we don’t simply slip back into our old ways, we have an opportunity to ensure there is continued and lasting change. For instance, adopting a hybrid working model – whereby professionals aren’t expected to work from the office five days a week – could be beneficial for a number of reasons. Not only will it cut down on travel, but it can act as an excellent way to attract and retain key talent, ” he noted.

Many workers have stated that they wished to continue to work from home in some capacity once the pandemic has come to an end.

A global survey undertaken by Slack in October 2020 revealed that 72% of people would prefer a mixture of office and remote-based working, with just 12% wanting to return to the office full time, Hays added.

Businesses will have also discovered other more sustainable practices during the pandemic and businesses can capitalise on this going forward.

It said video meetings had proven to be an effective tool in communicating when working from separate locations. If businesses reduced the amount of international business travel in future by conducting meetings virtually, this would help reduce carbon emissions further and could have a big impact globally.

Businesses must also convince their workforce of the benefits of reducing their carbon footprint. In order for a business to be successful in reaching any sustainability targets, it needs to change attitudes within its organisation and will need the buy-in from all employees.

Osborne said: “Many of the small actions in creating a culture of sustainability in the workplace – like turning off the lights and computers at the end of the day, eliminating single use plastics or using recycling bins – come down to the behaviour of staff, so getting employee buy-in is crucial.

“This needs to come from the top down, with clear communications of how everybody has a part to play in its success.”

Hays recently announced its own intention to be the first global recruiter to become Net Zero in terms of carbon emissions by the end of 2021.

As part of its ongoing commitment to ESG matters, Hays will set material, ongoing carbon reduction targets across its businesses to reach its Net Zero goal.

Hays already recruits a large number of skilled workers into low carbon, social infrastructure and ESG roles, but will actively be looking to grow its ESG-related talent pools, helping to solve skill and talent shortages globally.

Alistair Cox, Hays CEO, said, “The pandemic has taught us that global problems need global solutions.

“It’s only right that we ask ourselves what more we can do to help combat climate change. I passionately believe we all have a significant role to play in combating climate change. But by working together in unison, we can deliver even more.

“The transition to low carbon economies and effecting societal change impacts all of us and is arguably the greatest challenge mankind faces. As the global leader in our industry, we also want to take a prominent role in recruiting the talent to help make a difference.”

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