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Confronting Sustainability & Social Justice

17 Nov 2022

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Much more than just ‘buzzwords,’ contemporarily the scope of sustainability and social justice have far reaching implications. Though these topics have been inherently impactful to our personal lives, today there is ever-increasing emphasis on these dynamics within organisations.

The lines between our professional and personal lives are becoming increasingly blurred and it’s no wonder, we spend the majority of our time at work! In 2022, it’s integral for organisations to foster a work environment that is conscious of a wider purpose and responsibility, outside of providing financial reward.

The worsening environmental crisis, (apparent through the increasing occurrence of extreme weather events) global pandemic and social justice causes such as the Black Lives Matter and Me Too, have spearheaded shifts in our expectations of society.

Simply put, as individuals and as a community, we are holding each other more accountable for blatant ills that have been long tolerated. For businesses and organisations, it is imperative to be aware, responsive and responsible to these factors. In his book Transformational Culture, TCM’s CEO David Liddle puts it frankly “The impact on company culture must not be underestimated. Employees expect a response from their employer. It is no longer good enough to be non-racist in the workplace. The company is increasingly expected to be actively and publicly anti-racist.”

Studies in the US have found that:

  • Over 40% of employees feel a company’s actions on important societal issues would impact their decision to work for it
  • Almost 30% would be less likely to continue working for their company long term if it made no effort on important societal issues
  • 27% of workers at the US’ largest companies feel employees should pressure their CEOs to be more vocal on social issues

So what now?

As I have mentioned previously, it’s essential for organisations to be forward-thinking in crafting their culture and demonstrating their organisational values. Company’s Employee Value Proposition and align their actions with the growing wave of employee and social activism.

You can do this by:

Training – Ensure your employees are undertaking regular learning around sustainability and social justice topics. This will help to create awareness of individual and collective responsibility within these spaces.

Research – Educate yourself on contemporary issues or causes within these spaces. If you are unaware of what is going on you could develop tunnel-vision, which is a huge part of the problem with sustainability and social justice issues. Ignorance is NOT bliss!

Discuss – If you feel comfortable enough, engage with your employees around the causes and issues they feel passionate about. This will help you to develop a deeper understanding of what matters to your workers and steps you can take to support and accommodate their needs.

Consult experts – Employ or hire experts within these spaces to support your organisation in shaping policies, values and responses to sustainability and social justice issues. You want to get this right! Try not to make assumptions or implement policies without expert support, damage (both reputationally and financially) can be dire if mistakes are made.

Want to explore and implement an inclusive, high-performing workplace culture? Get in touch with our People & Culture Coordinator Hannah Cotton to discuss how TCM could support with your organisation.

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