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To become a truly responsible business, the importance of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors must be recognised at all levels and fully embedded into organisational culture.
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Michelle Sequeira
Michelle Sequeira
UK Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consulting Leader



Focusing on sustainability can transform organisational culture

Organisations are increasingly aware of the need to ensure their culture, values and purpose aligns with environmental, social and governance (ESG) expectations. Stakeholders, including customers, employees, investors and the media expect businesses to live their values, clearly demonstrating that policies, practices and employee experience match the image presented externally.


To become part of the fabric of business, values such as sustainability and diversity, equality & inclusion (DEI) need leadership buy-in.


In our latest research report, in partnership with the Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA), responsible business practices (78%), along with workforce related values such as DEI (78%) and employee wellbeing (73%) indeed appear to be well recognised at board level. However, despite legislative and societal pressure, ESG factors such as climate change and environmental issues are less so, with only 58% citing this as a high priority.

Infographic showing the extent of board level focus given to key ESG values

Of course, creating a business where human values and purpose are part of everyday culture requires commitment across the whole organisation, not just at board level. Yet while there is synergy between board-level and HR-level goals around values such as DEI and improving employee wellbeing, our research shows these are not always reflected at line manager level and are almost absent when monitoring supply chains.

Infographic showing prioritisation of key values at board, HR, line manager and supply chain levels

Over time, this disparity between stated intention and actual behaviour risks reputational damage, with knock-on effects for employee engagement, retention and workplace culture.


Our new report aims to provide HR professionals with the data needed to spot the gaps within their organisations and practical tools to help them work with leadership on the ESG journey.


This report is the second in a three-part series that will provide the context and practical steps needed to meet the challenge of transforming organisational culture into one that engages its employees and reduces its people risks. View the first report in the series here: ‘People risk: why the need for change is urgent’.


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