The human resource function in companies can be crucial to embedding a culture of sustainability
Many companies have worked hard in pursuit of sustainability. The reasons vary, but hard-nosed business objectives are usually predominant. The goals may include savings from energy efficiency or fewer lost-time accidents, increased customer satisfaction derived from shared non-financial goals, or the morale boost that employees get from a stronger organisational commitment to the environment or the community.
In most cases, the drive for sustainability involves finding the overlap between business interests and the needs of society, which we call the sustainability sweet spot (figure 1).
Figure 1: “The Sustainability Sweet Spot”
But even companies that have found profitable sweet spots and are deeply committed to sustainability are often frustrated by the slow pace of progress.
If your company is having problems with sustainability, an unsupportive corporate culture may be to blame. It’s often the chief executive and leaders of the organisation who are trying to move the enterprise in the direction of greater sustainability. In other cases, rank-and-file employees are pushing for a more sustainable organisation. But whether the drive for change comes from the top or the bottom, our research has shown that human resources professionals can have a surprisingly powerful impact in aligning...