It is all employees’ engagement in the sustainability agenda that can eventually help an organization embrace a sustainable purpose that is embedded in every day company practices and proceses.
Most sustainability strategies reasonably start with the effort of a few leaders and individuals that set the bases straight. This is indeed a crucial first step to guide the company towards a sustainable and responsible outlook on their impact in the world.
But it is also reasonable to think such a sustainable view of business impact should slowly be passed on to every corner of the organization if it is to be properly embedded in all company proceses and practices.
Sustainability should be part of every decision made in the company at any level of the organization. This is, expertise in marketing, accounting, design etc should be additionally and automatically accompanied by sustainability.
Only then can companies make sustainability an strategic and competitive advantage and turn environmental and social pledges into reality, avoiding greenwashing and reputational downfalls that damage much needed planetary targets.
Transforming sustainability ambition into action
According to a recent study by Boston Consulting Group, just 17% of companies are on track to meet their emissions targets. This means sustainability strategies or efforts are barely even working or being prioritized. But why is such an important milestone like emission reduction so far behind our planetary needs?
Engage employees in the sustainability strategy
While big promises and outstanding compromise is often praised among companies worldwide, numbers, as we have just learned, fail to give any credibility to such claims; meaning there is a still a lot of work to do in order to turn ambition into action.
A big reason behind this global failure to advance sustainability lies in the fact that companies don’t have the talent they need to pursue their purpose. In fact, the world in itself lacks this very specific type of talent.
A recent Linkedin research found that jobs requiring sustainability skills rose by 8%, however, the amount of people with said given skills only rose by 6%.
And it is precisely in this gap that companies find their biggest obstacle to advance sustainability, as most job offers are either empty or not sufficient. But of course, there is far more nuance to this that meets the eye, and the solution seems simple: if you want sustainability-trained people, start by training your own employees.
So while the talent to save the natural world and protect our livelihood does not yet exist, and the one that can potentially do so is rather scarce, upskilling employees has taken a central role in many companies. But the challenges this poses are not easy.
The challenges to advance sustainability throughout the company
According to research conducted together by BCG and Microsoft, given this scenario there are three main challenges that companies now face when trying to advance sustainability to meet their climate targets:
- The need to deploy enough talent with multidisciplinary skills as well as a broad sustainability skill set. These specific combinations of skills are very har to find, hence the reason why looking for internal talent may be the best solution.
- The need to embed new sustainability skills throughout the organization. This is the combination on many challenges, as each area of business may require a very different set of sustainability skills for their specific tasks and activities.
- The urgency of all the challenges above, as well as the need to reach planetary targets and transform the way we do business.
We need employee engagement for sustainability to thrive
If we analyze the challenges above, there is mainly, and almost solely, one way to approach the lack of sustainability advancement, and that is relying on internal talent and upskilling or training them to meet sustainability requirements.
This will of course take many resources including time and money, but the results will likely pay off both for the company and the community around it. From better reputation to more efficient processes, happier stakeholders and a lasting positive impact, sustainability can become a great competitive advantage.
However, and while sustainability training is crucial to meet the necessary environmental requirements, raising awareness beyond just job activities is as important as upskilling the workforce.
This is, making sustainability part of employees lives beyond just work-related matters can be the trampoline that takes sustainability training to the next level and leaves room for more active participation, willingness to learn and change, and bring new ideas to the table.
The OKR and sustainability guide
Building a sustainable purpose and engagement
In fact, we believe that employees are far from being indifferent from participation in sustainable efforts, and actually look for the opportunity to be actively engaged and find purpose in having a positive impact through their jobs.
That is why through our technology we work to activate and track employees’ impact, creating engagement that translates into improved ESG metrics, reputational value and an overall positive impact for the environment and society.
Because the workplace can in fact become the perfect environment to find that collective eagerness to make a difference, both for the sustainability and purpose of the company and a more sustainable way of being for all.