How does Human Resources professionals act on Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”)?

By Cherie Leung | Wednesday, 07 Dec 2022

For the past two years, the combination of a pandemic and "The great resignation" has changed the responsibilities of Human Resources professionals. ESG performance will become increasingly important when attracting and retaining employees as keeping top talent is tough.


Nowadays, employees are looking for a company that is responsible for carbon footprints, compliance and has a good risk management system. Sustainable human resources management and practices have arisen.


The Future of Workplace Sustainability Report discovered that two-thirds of office staff are more likely to work for a company with strong environmental policies whilst a further 72% were concerned about their company’s environmental ethics. Especially, the younger generations that feel the strongest when it comes to corporate ESG.


According to Deloitte, Gen Z are also more likely to report that it is important that they work for an organization whose values align with theirs, with social and environmental values being of the utmost importance.


Having a good ESG profile will make a company more attractive to investors who wish to invest as well as to employees who wish to work for companies with a strong set of ESG values that align with their own.


Thus, HR leaders and their teams should play a key role in creating and following through with their company’s ESG initiatives. This includes creating a robust, inclusive culture and organizations are increasingly realizing the vital role HR plays in ESG strategy.


HR professionals should bear in mind that ESG reflects the values of society. Where a business’s workforce aligns with society’s standards, a greater understanding of the market and customers will naturally be achieved. Within this alignment, ESG brings benefits to a company, including greater profits and enhanced attractiveness to investors and employees.


How do HR Leaders get started?

HR puts the S in ESG and in doing so, helps create a culture where current and prospective employees want to work.


Shape policy, purpose, and people’s engagement. As such, HR leaders must have a seat on the ESG committee because HR represents our employees – our human capital and our greatest asset.


Collaborate with your executive leadership teams to understand what ESG criteria and standards your organization is measuring against and how HR can support those efforts.


Analyze your workforce data to report on your organization’s efforts to recruit and manage a diverse and skilled workforce and leverage this information to track and measure metrics related to the company’s human capital.


Inventory your initiatives to create and inclusive and engaged workforce and publish it within the organization.


What are HR steps to driving ESG and business sustainability?

1. Define the company’s ESG purpose with their leadership team and with employees, how can they achieve it? Once it is refined, the company’s code of conduct can be built around the new purposes and focus on organizational objectives.

2. Review existing processes and work practices and realign them with the new sustainability goals.

3. Integrate ESG into talent acquisition from recruitment stage to onboarding stage.

4. Green policy should be created with training to encompass everything from greener lifestyle habits to specialized knowledge such as green procurement etc.

5. Support the green policy by eliminating physical paperwork across most talent management processes and enabling digital employee self-service such as leave application, learning & development and performance review and give employees more ownership.

6. Offer a reward program that link rewards to ESG goals within the company.

7. Actively encourage employees to join volunteer programs, and take time off to engage in charity work.

8. Listen to employee requests and create opportunities for them to contribute their own sustainable ideas to the workplace.

9. Stay updated on ESG guidelines and standards are evolving rapidly making it more important to be deliberate in staying updated on developments.


Companies & HR Leaders should start today because changes associated with ESG will not happen overnight.


Cherie Leung

Chief People Officer, United Asia Finance Limited

A strategic human resources leader who dedicated 20+ years to developing and driving people strategies that improve business performance. Partner closely with the Leadership team driving the people strategy and strive for continuous changes and encourage innovative ideas for digital transformation and effectiveness.  A Certified ESG Planner CEP®

Human Resources HR Environmental Social and Governance ESG Retaining employee

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