Written by Jodie Case | 27th June 2022

Recently we’ve seen a shift in the priority that businesses give to social responsibility, with ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) making its way up the priority list.

Companies should be actively engaged in ESG issues, from sustainability to workplace equality and diversity, not just for legal compliance but to make themselves more attractive as an employer.

But it’s important to avoid it being, or appearing to be, a tick box exercise, is there more you could be doing to support your employees?

Here are some areas to consider:

Review pay gaps and raises

At the moment there is pressure for businesses to report on gender pay gaps, equal pay review, and give out pay rises. So is your business doing enough here?

Carrying out a pay audit is the first step to understanding if there is a pay gap in your business and what actions need to be taken to fix this.

You also need to be transparent about your findings and make sure employees can access information about what their colleagues are earning. Your team should feel comfortable asking for a pay rise, and without knowing what their colleagues in the same role are earning, they may not do so.

By publishing the wages for all levels of roles, you are equalling the playing field and can help shrink the gap.

Actively manage diversity and inclusion

To raise awareness and improve diversity in the workplace, diversity and inclusion ambassadors or groups are essential. They can help with organisation-wide training such as unconscious bias and if these are employee-led it can improve engagement among other team members.

To go further and keep EDI top of mind for your employees, provide access to resources and opportunities for them to learn more about it – this could be as simple as sharing EDI related news and topics.

Your company culture will also play a part in how inclusive your workplace is – employees want to feel comfortable to be themselves and value their wellbeing as a top priority.

Not forgetting recruitment, you should also look at inclusion and diversity aspects of your recruitment strategy to ensure you recruit and retain diverse talent.

After employees have received training about diversity issues, you need to set the tone about how issues will be handled. All employees, even up to the highest levels, should be aware that inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated and every reported incident will be taken seriously.

Start volunteering

To show your support for the community and to encourage your teams to help others, you could start a volunteering programme that allows employees to work flexible hours a few times a month while they volunteer for a non-profit organisation.

Providing opportunities for employees to volunteer in work time, by allowing volunteering leave, can not only improve employee engagement but help you build stronger teams, and improve staff morale while demonstrating a commitment to making a difference to society.

As well as volunteering programmes you might also want to support other local businesses, hold charity events or donate your services to a worthy cause.

Promote mental health and wellbeing

Taking steps to cultivate an environment that supports mental, physical and emotional well-being can go a long way in engaging your employees in your ESG efforts.

This might include Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) or increased workplace flexibility. Mental health champions are people who will take a proactive role in supporting the mental health of your workforce. They could take the lead in organising events and activities, something like a ‘mental health hour’ slotted into the working week is a great way to reassure staff that there is someone there for them.

Support for education

Learning and development is significantly linked to employee happiness and engagement, so if you offer to pay for and support employee qualifications this could lead to improved retention.

New candidates may also be attracted to a job role if they’re able to complete their studies while working. They’ll also see this as a reason to stay in the company if taking these courses will lead to career progression.

With all of these benefits and opportunities for growth, staff will be excited to work for your business. And when your team feels valued, they will be more satisfied and less likely to look elsewhere.

Co-create a sustainability policy

If your business is trying to reduce the impact it has on the environment, have you considered creating a sustainability policy?

Co-creating this with your employees can help staff feel connected with your values. And taking their ideas into consideration will help with engagement too. You may want to include goals like reduce company carbon emissions by x% before 2030.

There’s also plenty of ways you can help your staff in making more sustainable decisions themselves. You could support their active commuting by implementing a cycle to work programme. Even the easiest of gestures, like swapping out non-recyclable plastics in the office, or creating proper rubbish and recycling signage, will go towards your ESG efforts and better align with your employees’ values and priorities.

For advice or assistance in how your organisation can improve/implement ESG in the workplace, get in touch with our team at [email protected].