How sustainability can power purpose in the war for talent
As people often confuse an organisation’s purpose with its sustainability commitments, this post looks at the close relationship between the two and, more importantly, how amplifying sustainability in the employee experience can boost staff commitment and loyalty.
How sustainability powers purpose
One way to understand the relationship between purpose and sustainability is to picture a triangle with purpose at the tip, influencing every major business and brand decision and action.
At the centre of sits the organisation’s vision and strategy; its long-term goal and plan to remain successful and relevant.
At the base of the triangle are the two key areas of culture and sustainability. Culture includes values, employee experience and diversity and inclusion, while sustainability encompasses the ethical, social and environmental aspects of doing business.
Sustainability in the media
Although an organisation’s purpose should lead everything it does, its sustainability actions are often more apparent to the outside world and certainly receive more media coverage.
Fashion retailers Asos and Primark both hit the headlines recently after announcing new sustainability commitments. Asos said it aims to achieve a net-zero impact on the environment by 2030, while Primark said its clothes will be made using recycled or “more sustainably sourced materials” by the same date.
Asos and Primark employees, who will be well aware of the environmental and ethical issues surrounding fast fashion, should rightly feel energised by these announcements, but they should also expect transparency around measurable progress and clarity on how these sustainability commitments align with the purpose.
Asos’s purpose is ‘to become the world’s number-one destination for fashion-loving 20-somethings’, while Primark’s purpose is ‘to bring affordable fashion to everyone around the world’.
With the rapidly growing demand for sustainable fashion from young consumers, it’s now imperative for both Asos and Primark to show employees how delivering on the core purpose is not at the expense of their sustainability commitments and vice versa.
Just as Millennial and Gen Z consumers are demanding more sustainable products, they also want to work for companies whose values match their own.
In a recent Censuswide survey, almost two-thirds of employees said that they were “more likely to work for a company with strong environmental policies.”
If a connection to the brand purpose imbues an employee’s work with added meaning, sustainability taps into a more personal sense of purpose.
With sustainability now embedded into the corporate strategy and agenda for most large organisations, socially-conscious employees are increasingly looking for opportunities to get more personally involved in sustainability initiatives at work.
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