Lindsey Rowe

Head of Strategic Programmes & Sustainability GTM
Chief of Staff COO UKI


HR: The secret ingredient to sustainability – 6 areas to consider


Lindsey Rowe

Head of Strategic Programmes & Sustainability GTM
Chief of Staff COO UKI


Lindsey Rowe

Head of Strategic Programmes & Sustainability GTM
Chief of Staff COO UKI

I see the ‘S’ of ESG is coming out of the shadows, ready to take centre stage with its environmental peers.

As organisations grapple with the ever-increasing demands in responsible and sustainable business, are they missing out a key ingredient in their strategy? Sustainability is now on the agenda of every organisation and employee, and showing no signs of slowing. With increased legislation, lobbying and investment and profits at stake, the acceleration in focus in this area is palpable.

The penny has dropped that true sustainability cannot be achieved by only focusing on one or two elements, it’s the collective outcomes that will have true impact.

Change in any organisation is deep rooted, and who better to influence this than HR? Touching every aspect of an organisation and influencing across the employee life cycle it’s time that HR has a permanent seat at the sustainability table.


Here are 6 areas that are important to embed within your sustainability measures and reporting.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Can your organisation feel confident they are equipped with talent for the future? Are they tapping into the vast talent pools that exist when expanding into diverse areas? Without people, you simply will not be sustainable. Do your talent programmes drive access to work and increased social mobility? Are you attracting neurodiverse talent to bring unique and valuable skills to your business?


The pandemic has taught us so much and if there can be a positive, I think the open-ness to talk about wellbeing and mental health has increased significantly. Perhaps the collective uncertainty and the unfiltered opportunity to see into people’s lives and home offices added a whole new dimension to the workplace. Great, but what has that got to do with sustainability? Increasingly I am seeing wellbeing metrics rising up the tables on focus areas for organisations as they measure their end-to-end goals.

Health & Safety

Isn’t that somebody else’s problem? Can we just get through the audit and ask facilities to make the adjustments we discussed? Behind every health and safety incident, there is one common dominator … a person! Somebody hurt, a near miss, or worse. In my opening paragraph I coupled sustainability with responsibility, the most logical of bed fellows. Responsible business is good business, not just for compliance or legislation, but because people matter. With onboarding, learning and development and occupational health HR play a pivotal role in driving responsible outcomes.


One of the key questions we now see from applicants, is to understand our sustainability strategy and I know we are not alone. Across all role types and tenures, we see that people want to know they are working for an organisation who shares their values and demonstrates true leadership in this space.

Are your hiring managers equipped to deliver your messaging? Do you proactively share this in career advertisements? Are you proud of your organisation’s achievements? Shout it from the roof tops!


Artificial Intelligence

Well, that escalated quickly! From harmless art to creating film ideas, the dabbling in AI for most people has been a novelty, something to chat over in the lunch break, as you spook your colleagues with the accuracy. Hugely valuable tools are being born and embedded into systems and business processes to drive increased productivity, but the worry is creeping in. What does this mean for my job? Will I be made redundant?

Ethics within AI are crucial, and HR will play a pivotal role in helping employees navigate this emerging technology space and ensuring it’s utilised for positive outcomes without bias.

Purpose & CSR

CSR programmes like skill-based volunteering have turned a corner in recent years to delivering consistent and predictable results that align to employee’s personal skills and passions.

There is absolutely still a place for traditional volunteering, which can bring teams together, especially since remote working, but the trend shows a desire for people to personally share their skills.

From mentoring, school outreach and pro bono programmes, we see a direct relationship to enhanced employee engagement outcomes, retention and overall employee wellbeing.

Whilst none of these 6 topics are new, add the lens of sustainability. Joining the dots always created a beautiful picture at the end, and I am confident that when organisations join the dots between their people initiatives and sustainability goals it drives measurable impact.

Are you ready to start joining those dots? Great …. Here’s the pen!

Come and join the conversation: Meet with HR Professionals to discuss and learn at HR Connect, 14th November, London.