Extinction Rebellion | How HR can promote sustainability

How HR can promote sustainability

Protests by the Extinction Rebellion activists are dominating the news this week, as the socio-political movement continues to champion sustainability and fight against climate change.

With the hope of making the planet more sustainable and to drive organisations to think carefully about what they can do to support the movement, it’s time we take a look at how HR can drive this change.

As more reports are released predicting the welfare of the planet – the University of Cambridge Institute of Sustainability Leadership reported that organisations are causing negative, if unintended, consequences for society and the environment – now is the time for HR leaders to take a look at their company’s carbon footprint along with the senior leadership team and how they can start to make a difference.

Not only is this strategy essential for the future of the planet, but it will also go a long way in attracting and retaining talent. This is backed by stats. BRITA research revealed that younger workers value the sustainability credentials of their employer with 86% stating that they would stay with their employer for longer if they reported on how they were trying to lower their carbon footprint.

Meanwhile, according to the 2016 Cone Communications Millennial Employee Engagement Study, 64% of Millennials won’t take a job if a potential employer doesn’t have strong corporate social responsibility.

The HR and people teams therefore play a crucial role in recruiting and retaining employees who are concerned about sustainability. As such, Sage People has outlined some key ways in which HR can drive their sustainability agenda:

Onboarding and recruitment

To ensure sustainability is at the heart of a business, HR’s goals should be clearly outlined during the recruitment and onboarding process. This will also ensure that HR is finding the right employees to fit with your company’s ambitions and culture.

Company’s purpose

According to Sage, HR should actively work alongside its leadership team to define what the company’s social purpose is and how the workforce can achieve it. Once this has been defined, the business as a whole can work together to enforce the purpose and to ensure sustainability is championed.

Provide training

While your company purpose may be outlined, without sufficient training, employees may not truly understand the reasons behind it. In addition, a business’s leaders also need to be aware of sustainability measures that may require specialised knowledge, such as talking to companies about sustainable or fair wages.

Launch incentives

HR’s goals for sustainability should be embedded within each employee’s performance review, so that they know what is expected of them and how they can actually make a difference. This coupled with a reward programme will incentivise individuals to make changes and will allow a business to measure business gains.


Lastly, by giving employees a purpose, such as volunteering, will allow staff members to get involved in something they are really passionate about. Not only will this demonstrate that HR is taking sustainability seriously, but it will give employees a purpose within their role at a company.

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