The environmental agenda for businesses might not be new but it’s now clear that this issue not only attracts great talent for your business, it can help get more out of them. Over the years the environment has grown in importance within the wider scope of business’ Corporate Social Responsibility. Without a doubt, calls for businesses to act on this – alongside governments and individuals – have become louder, more insistent, and frankly more dangerous to ignore.
But getting your environmental house in order doesn’t just mean you’re doing your best for the planet, it can also mean you’re doing your best as an employer.
A survey by Good Energy found 57% of young people preferred to work for an environmentally sustainable business. Attraction levels continue to be promising among future generations of workers as seen in a poll by the Institute of Engineering and Technology which found over two-thirds of children (68%) aged 5 – 13, hope to follow a career that helps the environment.
Track back ten years to 2012 and you’ll find Forbes reporting that 35% of workers would happily take a 15% pay cut in order to work for a company committed to corporate social responsibility. 45% would take the same cut to have a job which has a social or environmental impact. A study from UCLA also found that employees at businesses which follow international environmental standards are 16% more productive than those at less sustainable companies. Put simply, if workers know what they are doing is good they want to do it more.
The green agenda can be harnessed for the good of your business but naturally your commitment to this has to be real. Paying lip service risks the initiative backfiring in a wave of ‘greenwashing’ accusations.
Back to basics
A good way to start is by auditing your business’ activities to see where you can reduce the toll you’re having on the planet. Identifying areas of waste – whether energy use, processes or resources – will not only reduce the burden your business has on the environment but could also cut your costs. Digitised documents means less paper to buy and throw away – at Pixid group, we’ve already digitised over 200 million documents. Recycling equipment also means less cost at end of life. Even simple steps such as turning off lights and equipment when not in use could reduce your energy demand and bills.
More challenging ideas are worth exploring. The pandemic has shown how it’s not always necessary to undertake a journey to meet a contact. Awareness of supply chain issues could mean you can influence practice across your sector. Your company’s reward and benefit schemes could also be addressed, offering employees the chance to take part in environmentally friendly activities and projects.
Achieving a global impact can seem impossible given the scale of the challenge but every organisation can help. Carbon saving initiatives within the UK’s Parliament has seen a 52% reduction of carbon emissions in 2020/21 against the base year of 2008/09. Actions included replacing lamps with more energy efficient options, the installation of solar panels and the use of ‘smart’ meters to better control energy use across the Estate. Elsewhere, the World Economic Forum has estimated that digitalisation measures could cut global greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 20%.
Competing to conserve
And let’s not forget, taking meaningful action can also be fun. Action Against Hunger is just one NGO who organise an annual event, in this case one where teams of employees compete against each other in various sporting activities, which also raise funds for vulnerable people in famine and drought-hit regions. Pixid have taken part for many years, supporting the organisation’s long-term approach, bolstering food growing and water conservation and helping to build community resilience to climate change.
Any step forward is meaningful and it’s important to communicate your progress. Each time your business records a success in this issue be sure to share it with your employees and the wider community. In this way your environmental initiatives will encourage others, help attract and retain employees, and give them a way to positively contribute. All of which is better for the planet and better for you.
by Daniel Kieve, Pixid UK & Ireland