ESG top of employee agenda

9th February 2023

Bold environmental and social credentials are now key to attracting top talent

Today’s workforce is rightly demanding more action on environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives. Civica’s Jessica Collingwood-Terry explains how organisations can make a meaningful difference

The expectation for companies to take responsibility for their environmental and social impact is not new. It’s driven by company leaders and employees and customers across all levels of business and all sectors. But what’s vital now is the ability to show authentic, tangible action. It’s not enough to just say we’re committed to ESG strategies – we must show real drive, determination and bold commitment to make these changes happen.

Important stakeholders, including our customers and colleagues and potential new hires are increasingly making decisions based on what companies are doing to show social value in the ESG space – what are we doing to create a better, fairer world? On a personal note, I hear my own children sharing how important it is for them and their friends to work for an organisation that really cares about its impact on society. So I know, first-hand, how crucial this is for generations to come.

In Mercer’s recent Rise of the Relatable Organisation report, this demand to meet ESG values is obvious. It shows that 96% of employees expect their company to pursue a sustainability agenda; with 20% stating that working for a company misaligned with their values puts them at risk of burnout. After job security, organisational brand and reputation is the main reason for people to join a new employer.

We see this play out every day with regular questions about our social value from existing colleagues and prospective hires; working for a company which is truly aligned to someone’s values is also a key factor in employee retention and engagement. For skills-hungry companies across the tech sector to be able to compete for the best talent therefore, they must be on the front foot when it comes to ESG. They need to show that ESG is as much about actions as it is ambitions.

Can HR help make the difference?

It's clear that for any ESG initiatives or programmes to be successful, they must be worked on, understood and embraced by our entire business. For Civica, this is a global issue and we are constantly looking at our footprint across all our operations from the UK and Ireland to Australia, the US and Canada.

As ESG issues are so important to all our colleagues and in particular millennials and Gen Z (who in just a few years will make up a significant proportion of the global workforce), this is a huge priority for HR teams. It’s also the right thing to do. We can help set the tone around sustainability, diversity and inclusion and other social value initiatives – right from pre-boarding and throughout all aspects of the employee lifecycle – showing our employees that it’s an important part of our culture and brand. We can also constantly review our HR and workplace practices to be fully in line with our social value objectives.

ESG into action

As an Investors in People Gold business, we’re dedicated to providing an inclusive working environment where our people can bring their whole selves to work, shown by our inclusion in the Financial Times Diversity Leader list 2023 for the third year in a row. Introduced in 2022, we have a number of global affinity groups for employees to join, get support and effect change across our business across areas such as LGBTQIA+, the menopause, race and ethnicity, parents and guardians, and early career starters.

Social value is at the heart of what we do. We participate in numerous schemes encouraging people of all backgrounds into tech careers, including partnering with Coding for Kids in Northern Ireland. Our successful Career Relaunch Program in India has supported a number of women developers back into work after a career break. While as members of the Business Disability Forum, we’re committed to making sure all our products and services are accessible to everyone and we’re currently working to obtain Disability Confident Level 3 accreditation and reviewing all areas of our employee lifecycle.

We want our benefits to recognise the values that are important to people and are more purposeful: including Donate-A-Day charity activities, salary sacrifice options to donate to charities and flexible working to reduce environmental issues when commuting.

Encouraging everyone in the organisation to play their part (however small) is vital. At Civica, we are doing this through a campaign we call One Smart Step, which is spearheaded by Leafy, our animated ‘colleague’. Each month Leafy shares videos on simple steps which everyone can take to make a difference to our carbon footprint. Examples include reducing energy usage, cutting down on food waste and eliminating lamination in our offices.

Like every major organisation, we recognise that there is still much to do. Our dedicated ESG team will keep listening to our employees, potential recruits and customers and regularly evolving. We’ll also continue working in a joined-up way across the business and take rapid action where we can.

We want to involve our people and welcome suggestions as to how we can do better – so we don’t just meet but exceed expectations. This will all help us to keep raising our targets with a clear plan to achieve our ESG goals and attract and maintain our talented people across the globe.

Jessica Collingwood-Terry is Chief People Officer at Civica.