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Employee activism is enabling HR to push ESG up the agenda

A recent Mercer report on ‘people sustainability’ in organisations has revealed that Human Resource Directors have a golden opportunity to lead their organisation’s strategic focus in the context of social sustainability. ‘People sustainability’ includes the internal focus on raised employment standards in the organisation and its supply chain, as well as the ability to influence external factors by enabling the workforce. Mercer’s recent HR in ESG Survey indicates that four fifths of organisations surveyed state that ESG is a top priority for themand that their ESG goals are connected to their corporate purpose.

‘People sustainability’ includes the internal focus on raised employment standards in the organisation and its supply chain, as well as the ability to influence external factors by enabling the workforce. Mercer’s recent HR in ESG Survey indicates that four fifths of organisations surveyed state that ESG is a top priority for themand that their ESG goals are connected to their corporate purpose.

“While ESG may be on the agenda for many executive boards, identifying appropriate leaders within organisations for specific operational elements can be a challenge,” said David Wreford, a Partner at Mercer. “There can be many internal and external ESG touchpoints across an organisation and recognising where particular elements have a natural ‘home’ can often be a struggle.

“This can result in ESG inertia, where an organisation is unable to identify and fully commit leaders to achieve its ESG goals. Mercer’s research shows that there is a natural home for people sustainability within HR leadership.”

The study suggests organisational ESG goals are powered by employee activism with 86 per cent of respondents considering the largest stakeholder group to influence ESG activities within their company as its employees, closely followed by its customers at 83 per cent. But to what extent has HR already recognised sustainability as a strategic focus? And what is the degree of maturity of its implementation?

To help HR leaders improve sustainability through their people, Mercer recently launched a free diagnostic tool that helps HR leaders examine how well their company is organised to deliver on its ESG objectives, whilst identifying the HR levers that can accelerate their achievement of these objectives.

“Mercer’s HR & Sustainability Alignment Diagnostic covers 38 key HR considerations, from fostering an inclusive culture to providing retirement support,” said Mr Wreford. “HR plays a critical role and it is important for leaders to be able to break down sustainability into manageable individual elements to improve the employee experience. In addition, people sustainability must be thought of holistically beyond the company‘s own employees and be anchored in the company‘s everyday life.

“In view of increasing corporate transparency, the diagnostic supports in directing HR leaders on what levers to operate and understand how to address ESG commitments, ensuring employees do not see ESG as a ‘bored’ agenda.”

www.uk.mercer.com/our-thinking/environmental-social-governance/improving-sustainability-through-your-people.html

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