#2: Your first steps toward becoming a more sustainable organization

Thijmen Meijer
17 March 2023

In our second article we show how you can begin your journey with smaller, yet nonetheless, important actions towards sustainability.

In our previous article, the first one in our new series on “green talent strategies”, we took a look at why investing in sustainability strategies is not only the right thing to do but how it also provides you with a wise and strategic view of your talent strategy and a way that you can make your business more resilient, attractive and future proof as well. In this second article, we are going to show you why making the first steps towards sustainability doesn’t have to mean significant cost reallocations, and large headcount raises, but with a practical approach, you can begin your journey with smaller, yet nonetheless, important actions that will significantly improve your organization’s future green capabilities and later help you more easily adapt a holistic green talent strategy as well.

The very first thing you can do in your organization is look for people internally who are passionate about ESG and green topics. Many employees may already have a personal interest in the topic and by involving and empowering them to drive these topics internally you are not only able to create momentum in a very efficient and cost-free way, but also provide purpose and mission to those people, thereby creating stronger engagement and connection between them and your organization. And even if you don’t find such individuals (which I would doubt) putting this on the agenda of your next meeting, and opening up a free discussion about it would already be a great thing to do, showing that you encourage a supportive environment on this (and other) topic(s) and foster an open communication culture within your organization.
Building on this first step, another great way to involve decision-makers and employees is by hosting green discussion panels. These can take place once a month or once a quarter and can provide an opportunity to openly discuss and brainstorm ideas on ESG and sustainability initiatives, share progress since the last meeting and address any concerns or challenges that the group faces. You could also consider giving out one or two “green days” per year. On these paid (!) days you would encourage employees to participate in hands-on sustainable activities, such as planting trees, volunteering at a recycling center, or even visiting and learning from local initiatives/experts to educate themselves on ESG topics. Through these experiences and bringing together all employees, you can not only create a better “team spirit” but also a more holistic approach to sustainability, one that is grounded in shared values and goals.

You also don't want to miss out on looking around and seeing what other companies in your industry are already doing. Learning from others is never a sin, in fact gathering best practices and success stories, or even better, studying the obstacles and difficulties that your competitors might face can serve as a great lesson and catalyst for change in your own organization. It can also be a great opportunity to create stronger connections and ties, or form a network on this topic with like-minded business leaders - and we all know the value of networking is one that is unquestioned even during these uncertain times.
Another important step to consider is adding a green element to your job descriptions, and sharing your company’s stand on sustainability in your external job ads. This might seem again like a small thing to do, but if you want to create a strong ESG culture in your company, you need to be mindful of the new people’s mindset that you will end up bringing into your organization. This needs to have substance, though, so this step definitely needs to be happening with all the other ones as well. Simply stating that you care about sustainability and not being able to show anything for it, could potentially even backfire on you, and make you look not genuine. 

Internal ambassadors, green discussion panels, learning from your competition, even launching a network maybe, and giving out extra paid “green days” to your employees. These are just some of the many ideas, that you can start implementing today to make the first steps toward a more sustainable and greener organization, no matter the size of your business. In our next articles, we will also look at some of the more advanced techniques and practices, as well as examples of how you can create great synergies with other important HR and talent strategies, such as diversity and inclusion. If you and your organization would like to discuss these or other practices further, and/or are ready to take the first steps in finding the best talent for a more sustainable future, get in touch with us today, and we'll be happy to partner with you!
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