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Corporate sustainability: why it matters

By Simon Winfield, Managing Director, Hays UK & Ireland

The importance of sustainability isn’t a new concept, but over the past few years, it’s come closer and closer to the forefront of our consciousness. And, as our planet hurtles towards irreversible damage, it’s more vital than ever that organisations take the part they play in the impact on the environment seriously.

At Hays, we're really proud to be environmentally conscious, but aside from giving back to the planet – why else is it important, and why should your business care?

What is corporate sustainability?

Corporate sustainability typically falls into three categories: environmental, social and economic. The first point focuses on a workplace’s impact on the physical world – for example, reducing its carbon footprint, taking recycling seriously, limiting the use of printed documents and focusing on more energy-efficient practices.

Social sustainability refers to how a business impacts people – both within the business, for example direct reports, and without, such as the local community and those involved in the wider supply chain.

Economic sustainability focuses on the concept that in order to be sustainable, an organisation needs to be profitable, striking the balance between making planet-friendly changes at a financially stable rate.

What are the benefits of sustainability in the workplace?

Aside from the obvious positives that can be gained from being a sustainable business – a reduced impact on the planet being the most prominent – there are many other benefits, too. It can improve your brand’s image, reduce waste and costs, attract more employees and investors and support your Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

An EVP is the “total value” of the “benefits” a member of staff feels like they get by working for an organisation – it combines training, salary, opportunities and culture, to name a few – and working for a company that genuinely gives back and cares about the planet only helps this further.

Does an organisation’s view on environmentalism affect employees?

Yes. Sustainability feeds into a business’s EVP, which directly affects how employees feel about working at a particular company. In fact, a 2021 study carried out by PLAY found that 77% of participants wanted more transparency from their organisation about their impact on the environment. This highlights the importance of demonstrating your commitment to the protection of the planet, not only in the actions you take, but how you communicate this to present and future employees.

What does Hays do to help the planet?

Our commitment to sustainability is unwavering, and as an organisation, we are constantly trying to improve our impact on the planet, including our carbon footprint. In fact, we became a carbon-neutral business in 2021 and our overarching targets for carbon reduction have been approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi). These targets are a key part of our ambition to reach Net Zero. We’ve also switched to 100% renewable energy across our offices in the UK and Ireland, and we’re in the process of moving our car fleet to fully electric vehicles. In addition to this, we’re reducing the amount of business travel that takes place, to further diminish our impact on the planet.

Under the framework of the Hays Helps programme, we recently partnered with the charity Trees for Cities, where, over the next 18 months, we will donate and plant 300 trees every four weeks to any UK and Ireland region that reaches their regional targets. This aligns with our commitment to not only improve the employability prospects of people who may not have the same opportunities as others, but to also protect the environments where we operate so we can be a sustainable business going forwards. In addition to that, we have an internal network called Zero Heroes that aims to improve our sustainability efforts across our offices in the UK and Ireland.

About this author

Simon joined Hays in 2006, having commenced his recruitment career in 1993. Initially responsible for our businesses in Western Australia and Northern Territory, Simon relocated to the UK in 2014 where he was responsible for our operations in the West & Wales and Ireland, before being appointed Managing Director of the UK & Ireland business in 2018.

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