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How Sustainability Helps Your Business and Attracts Better Candidates

29 March 2021

By Jay Freeman

How Sustainability Helps Your Business and Attracts Better Candidates

Sustainability doesn’t just impact an organisation’s bottom line, it influences the way that candidates think about an organisation, and their decision to potentially join it.

Last week, we discussed how 75% of candidates research a company’s reputation when considering a job role, and how 92% said they would consider changing jobs if they were offered a role with a company that has an excellent corporate reputation. 

Part of the reason why greener jobs are on the rise is due to demand – candidates are actively comparing the stance an organisation has on sustainability with other options, and 30% of people in a survey have left a job in the past due to their employer’s lack of a sustainability plan.

It isn’t just a social obligation, it’s a competitive advantage. 

This week we’ll be discussing why sustainability should be on your recruitment and retention agenda, including how you can create a greener organisation and how it attracts the best candidates.

What is a ‘greener organisation’?

In the life sciences sector, there are heavy regulations, yet a greener organisation would be defined by a choice to expand on these regulations towards wider initiatives (such as carbon neutrality).

When it comes to a candidate’s perception of an organisation, positive impact on society is often at the forefront, but candidates also want to know how they can be involved in sustainability efforts within an organisation.

Primarily, a greener organisation is one with a commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability initiatives.

For those in the life sciences sector, it may take the form of circularity (reduce, reuse, recycle), independent audits to measure sustainability efforts, regulatory standards on measuring/reporting carbon emissions and evaluating initiatives on a regular basis.

How can you create a greener organisation?

There is a variety of avenues organisations can go down to pursue a more sustainable approach.

Prioritising energy efficiency, supporting fair labour and trade practices and committing to environmentally friendly practices are some of the main talking points around sustainability, to name a few.

Organisations such as Automedi, for example, have focused on reducing delivery emissions by producing sustainable machines, with emissions only required in the initial delivery of their machines, as emission intensity is a key issue for the life sciences sector.

There are a number of ways to implement more sustainable practices, with the deciding factor being what you, as an organisation, deem to be the biggest priority. 

For some it may be responsible innovation, and for others, a strong leaning towards social responsibility will suit their approach to CSR more.

The benefits of a sustainable approach

The potential advantages of embedding sustainability into your organisation aren’t just limited to economic value – the benefits extend to attracting top talent, productivity with an organisation and the societal perception of an organisation.

Let’s take a look at some of the further benefits of a sustainable approach.

Shared value for stakeholders

A sustainable business creates value for stakeholders, including employees, supply chains, society and the planet – by addressing social problems, they can generate economic value.

This ‘shared value’ comes from a need to continually talk with, and learn from, stakeholders.

By doing so, an organisation is more equipped to react to economic, social, environmental and regulatory changes as they arise.

Increased stakeholder engagement means greater cooperation, leading to a strengthened ability to operate flexibly and without issue, too.

Increased employee satisfaction and retention

For the life sciences sector, there is an acknowledgement that the purpose of the industry is to improve lives, particularly in pharmaceuticals. 

However, businesses acknowledging the impact on employees, the communities in which it operates, and the environment at large is just as important as acknowledging the impact on a patient/individual.

Let’s take biotechnology company Biogen as an example – between 2006 and 2013, Biogen reduced its water intensity by 66%, energy intensity by 57% and greenhouse gas emissions by 64%.

In this timeframe, solid waste to landfill was reduced by 100%, with Biogen achieving their zero waste to landfill goal in 2021.

The result? A maintained commitment to sustainability that made 97% of employees ‘proud to be associated with Biogen’.

With 70% of survey respondents saying they were likelier to work at an organisation with a strong environmental agenda and 30% having left a job in the past due to their employer’s lack of a sustainability plan, it’s no surprise that sustainability can positively impact employee satisfaction, and in the long-term, retention.

Competitive advantage

If sustainability in an organisation can increase employee retention and stakeholder engagement, as mentioned prior, productivity can increase considerably as a result.

Morale was found to be 55% better in companies with strong sustainability programs, with employee loyalty being 38% better in comparison to companies with poor sustainability programs, leading to reduced absenteeism and improved productivity in the long-term.

Additionally, a focus on sustainable practice will inevitably have a knock-on effect on operational efficiency, which may potentially reduce operational costs.

In a study by Goldman Sachs, companies considered leaders in environmental sustainability have outperformed the general stock market by 25%, offering a unique competitive advantage in investment opportunities.

It attracts better candidates

Attracting top talent can seem difficult, but focusing on sustainability efforts can help organisations to attract candidates for a number of reasons.

Fast Company found in a survey that 40% of respondents had chosen a job in the past because the company performed better on sustainability than the alternative, with 70% also stating if a company had a strong sustainability plan, it would affect their decision to stay with the company long-term.

In addition to this, many employees would take a pay cut to work at an environmentally-responsible company – showing the shift in a workforce that values fulfilment over traditional monetary value.

Showing a strong commitment to sustainability is likely to attract candidates seeking further value in their work, and if they do become an employee, a sense of pride in the sustainability of the company they work for can lead to increased retention.

Another added value of sustainability efforts is increased trust. If a candidate can see a clear and committed stance on sustainability, this transparency can create a sense of trust in an organisation that they might not find elsewhere. 

If you’d like help securing top talent in the life sciences sector, we can help – whether you’re operating in the field of biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical devices or food, we know you require top-notch professionals.

Find out more here.

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