Twenty years ago, I waited nervously at the Calgary airport for the Brewster bus to arrive and take me to the remote Rocky Mountain resort. That trip would change the course of my life. I never expected one summer internship would turn into a decade of career building, adventure, and form a deep sense of connection to this pristine “place.”
Over the years, I saw my “place” devastated by forest fires, floods and extreme weather events that sparked my anxiety over our changing climate. I’m part of the growing majority, where concerns over a sustainable future have become engrained in my values, and therefore my desire to choose a career with real impact.
Companies that prioritize corporate governance (ESG) are more successful in attracting and retaining great talent. A recent report from Mercer found that one in four employees admit they would quit if their employer had a poor sustain-ability record. Furthermore, in March 2023, the UN climate panel released ground-breaking information stating that global warming is poised to irreparably alter the livability of current and future generations, if not acted upon now. With more than 40 per cent of Canadian youth between the ages of 16 and 25 now reporting that climate anxiety is affecting their daily functioning, employees are increasingly looking for aligned companies that are actioning a sustainable future.
How to Become a Sustainable Workplace
Barbara Ward once said, “We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do.” Being a “good guest” of the planet is more than embedding sustainability as part of the employer brand. It means proving that sustainability efforts are for impact, not optics or a greenwashing scheme. How?
Start by making the most senior leader the ESG champion to amplify the message and the culture. Measure performance using the triple-bottom-line approach, which looks beyond just profit to the “three Ps” — profit, people and the planet. Honest and transparent reporting of this data proves to future and current employees the commitment to making a difference comes from the top.
Reduce your operation’s carbon footprint by offering cycling-to-work incentives, installing solar panels, and enabling work from home where possible. Install or subsidize employee EV charging stations. Enable people to properly re-use, recycle and divert waste, and become paper free by implementing software needed to digitize the business.
Partner with stakeholders who share common ESG values, and who will aid to advance your sustainability goals. Support sustainable charitable organizations and offer annual paid leave for employee volunteerism.
The growing urgency for sustainability means that consumers are choosing actions and experiences that prioritize environmental stewardship. It is pivotal for companies to solidify their commitment to sustainability if they’re to be successful in attracting and retaining the best talent while securing a healthy planet for future generations.
BY CAYLEY DOW – the Founder of Thrivity Inc. (thrivityhr.com), a human resources consulting and coaching firm that helps service-oriented businesses to thrive in the ever-evolving world of work.