Several years ago, a report published by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave humanity a deadline: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent before 2030 to keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit). If we reduce emissions by this amount, we won’t reverse the effects of climate change, but we will be spared from the worst of its potential consequences. However, to meet the IPCC’s timeline, we need a radical cultural transformation with broad participation from every level and functional area within the business sector. We can help organizations achieve this goal by embracing HR’s role in sustainability.
Why Is HR Responsible for Sustainability in the Future of Work?HR leaders are uniquely positioned to steer their organizations in the direction of net zero readiness. Functionally, they’re responsible for the critical areas of hiring and developing talent. This includes:
- Key leadership roles where new skills are needed.
- Designing policies and benefits that can impact companies’ carbon footprints.
- Stewarding culture and values that support sustainability commitments.
HR professionals already have several responsibilities, but failing to take ownership of sustainability is a mistake organizations cannot afford.
Why Are Sustainability Strategies BeneficialGiven the urgency of environmental sustainability, every organization must adapt. Organizations that hesitate can expect to lose the luxury of designing their own decarbonization timelines if a regulator or competitor gets there first. They forfeit competitive advantage in talent and consumer markets and crash into inevitable growth ceilings of their own making.
On the other hand, companies swift to deploy a sustainability strategy can expect many commercial benefits—particularly in developing talent, meeting consumer demand, and delivering value to shareholders.
- The Talent Advantage—According to research by Deloitte, about half of Gen Z and millennial employees unhappy with their organizations’ commitment to sustainability plan to leave in the next two years. Organizations satisfying younger employees’ sustainability expectations will enjoy the security of a strong leadership pipeline, the benefits of generational diversity, and reduced friction in recruitment efforts.
- The Customer Advantage—According to a recent Capterra study, consumer willingness to pay more for sustainable goods has increased by an average of 8 percent from 2021 to 2022. Plus, 88 percent of consumers check the sustainability of a product before purchasing it. Businesses with solid sustainability practices have a competitive advantage with consumers—and business-to-business (B2B) organizations are no different. According to Amazon’s State of Business Procurement Report, more than 69 percent of B2B buyers are required to make purchases from sellers appealing to sustainable practices.
Ready to help your organization commit to more sustainable practices? Learn more benefits of HR sustainability initiatives that can make a difference in DDI’s blog, “HR’s Pivotal Role in Reaching Sustainability Goals.”