Sustainable business and social responsibility: Could your company culture be holding you back? 

Sustainable business and social responsibility: Could your company culture be holding you back? 

Sustainable business and social responsibility: Could your company culture be holding you back? 

No matter what you’re selling or what service you provide, it’s now crucial for businesses to be operating in a socially responsible and sustainable manner. Approaching ESG reporting with a tick-box mentality won’t get you anywhere fast. But having a company culture built around sustainability and social responsibility not only benefits the planet as a whole, but it contributes to long-term business success and profitability, and makes for a happier, more productive workforce.


What is company culture? 

After studying workplaces for over 30 years and listening to how employees describe their workplace experience, Great Place To Work® has decoded the psychology behind company culture.  They interpret it as “the sum of your formal and informal systems and behaviours and values, all of which create an experience for your employees and customers. At its core, company culture is how things get done around the workplace.”

“Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion.”– Brian Chesky, Co-Founder, CEO, Airbnb.  


Employees are demanding purpose from their jobs. 

When it comes to ESG, focussing on culture over compliance makes for higher retention rates, higher levels of productivity, and a much more positive impact on the climate.

Research from Great Place To Work® shows that when employees say their work has “special meaning,” rather than being “just a job,” they are 56% more likely to experience innovation opportunities. And a study by Marsh & McLennan proves the effectiveness of ESG and employee engagement. The study found that employers that have high employee satisfaction tend to have lower carbon emissions, have more diversity, and make a greater effort to understand employee feelings.


Sustainability at its best is a value creator, not a cost. 

Organisations that lead with sustainability and purpose at their core will attract business from other like minded firms and individuals. And a company that’s committed to a cause is far more likely to attract the type of employees who are committed to a purpose over a paycheck. So leading with a culture of sustainability really is a no-brainer.


How to lead with sustainability:

For established companies wanting to change their ways, remember that you can’t change overnight. Be authentic and open about where you want to go, and how you’re planning to change things. Be transparent with employees and consumers throughout your journey - particularly when you hit roadblocks. This builds a culture of trust, and people are far more likely to stick around to see the journey through with someone they trust. 


Start from the top. 

Leadership plays a crucial role in shaping the culture of an organisation. Executives and managers should lead by example, demonstrating their personal commitment to sustainability and social responsibility. Incorporate these values into the company's mission statement and strategic planning. Encourage ethical behaviour, foster a culture of integrity, and ensure that sustainability considerations are integrated into decision-making processes at all levels.

A great starting point is to find people in your business who are already passionate about sustainability and social responsibility, and give them key ownership on these areas. Let them take the lead and assist where you can - galvanise and empower them to inspire and educate other members of staff on sustainable and socially responsible practices.


Dare to be different.

In order to successfully build a culture steeped in sustainability and social responsibility, you have to be willing to do things differently… and do them with passion.

Take, for example, Foresight Group. Rather than being a traditional investment firm, this GS2 client is a sustainability led alternative assets and investment management firm. 

By aligning their investment strategies with key themes that shape society and the planet, they contribute to a resilient decarbonised world, creating high quality sustainable jobs for tomorrow’s economy. Instead of reactively monitoring their investments for green credentials, they build their strategies on the fundamental belief that sustainability creates value.

This attitude is embedded into their culture. Their HR team has been their People and Sustainable Culture Team, to ensure their organisational culture inspires sustainable thinking in all areas of the organisation. Because, if sustainable action is only one tiny part of the business, how will you make a real impact? 


Hire based on cultural fit over credentials:

In an ever changing world of legislation and evolving best practice, relying on technical skill set for most leadership roles could leave organisations exposed. At GS2, we focus our attention on ensuring the individual will compliment company culture and be able to mould and adapt within testing times.

We see clients hiring based upon skills and experience, but individuals being fired based upon their behaviours. So we believe it’s crucial that behaviours are tested during the recruitment process.

By utilising cutting edge behavioural profiling, whilst embracing diversity and retaining a personal touch, GS2’s assessment process transforms conventional recruitment and removes the guesswork from sustainable hiring. Our tools allow us to measure behavioural requirements internally, benchmark stakeholder needs, and contrast and compare candidates against these to deliver risk free processes.

Remember, small actions taken collectively can lead to significant positive change, both within the organisation and in the wider world. Building a culture of sustainability and social responsibility can take time and you might need help to do it - but every step you take counts. 


Get in touch to start your sustainability journey with GS2.

GS2 Partnership, a global talent solutions organisation on a critical journey to connect the people who believe in leaving the world better than they found it. As a certified B Corp pending organisation, we support organisations of all size and scales across the UK, Europe and US. Our solutions attract, assess, onboard and retain leaders within their Executive Teams along with Impact investing, ESG, sustainability, corporate affairs, communication and responsible business functions.