“The best professionals in the world want to work for companies that exhibit good corporate sustainability.” – Jim Copeland, former CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
Corporate sustainability is defined literally as how you make your company sustainable.
A simple example: suppose you own a paper mill factory. The scarcity of forest in Indonesia will bring you problems. You cannot think only about short-term profit; you must consider the sustainability of your factory years from now. Hence, instead of cutting all the woods ignorantly, you will do a trees replanting plan so you can ensure your company’s sustainability.
Naturally, companies who have to think about corporate sustainability strategies are the companies who also consume the limited resources. But nowadays, many companies are proudly campaigning their corporate sustainability initiatives, such as:
- 99% of McDonald’s fish (fillet o’ fish, etc) are sourced from Marine Stewardship Council Certified Fisheries. (Mindblowing, right? We always thought that McD is using exotic Nemo-ish fish.)
- McGraw-Hill reduces their paper consumption by 2 million pounds.
- 7% of Crocs material comes from reused scrap material.
Yes, these companies use corporate sustainability actions as marketing campaign, because apparently customers choose to buy products that are perceived as “eco-friendly”.
Corporate sustainability is not always about environment, but also social acts. One of the most famous case studies is TOMS shoes with its “one for one” motto. This social mission makes the customers excited to share it with their friends. It’s every CMO’s dream: your customer becomes your marketer.
(Regardless of the wrong motives, any social and eco-friendly acts are better than criticize them and do nothing.)
So what’s the correlation between corporate sustainability and HR?
Like customers who prefer eco-friendly products, employees also prefer to work for companies who put high value in environmental and social responsibility. That’s why tobacco and alcohol drink companies in Indonesia find difficulties in recruiting—they have to offer more privilege to attract potential employees. On the contrary, many NGOs employ highly qualified individuals, although their compensation packages are not as attractive.
In fact, researches find that there’s a high correlation between corporate sustainability and employee engagement.
The message is clear: Think about how your startup can bring positive contributions to environment and society. Inspire your employees to do it together. See how impactful it is to your team cohesiveness. Do it consistently and you can even use it to win the war for talent.