We live in an era where more and more companies are “going green” and adopting environmental sustainability standards. However, it seems like the human resources (HR) sectors are the first responders to these changes and a vital link in implementing sustainable practices.
On the flip side, most sustainable practices affect HR-related manners and values, such as boosting employee morale or adopting impactful practices that make everyone aware of the value of innovative corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate sustainability strategies.
You are not the only one who finds it difficult to tell the difference between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate sustainability. Yet, both terms are used interchangeably despite their different meanings.
Corporate social responsibility focuses on an organization’s impact on the population and the world. It incorporates ethical issues not related to the environment but more to creating industry standards.
On the other hand, corporate sustainability is a term that directly links to a company’s long-term economic, social, and environmental values. Here, sustainability refers to increasing the lifespan of systems to keep them active for a long period.
There are key differences in targets, where CSR tends to target opinion formers, while sustainability targets the whole value chain. Also, corporate social responsibility is all about compliance, while sustainability is about business. Lastly, CSR is driven by the need to protect a reputation, while sustainability is driven by the need to create opportunities and initiate changes in the workplace.
The rise of Green HR
The rise of awareness for green sustainability strategies led to something called “green HR,” a company culture term coined by Walter Wehmeyer. He was trying to link environmental management and human resource management.
By definition, green HR is when the field of human resources focuses on expanding its role in an attempt to support the organization in the pursuit of sustainability. Green HR involves practices and policies that support the sustainable use of resources and preserve the natural environment.
On a larger scale, these strategies help organizations to operate in an environmentally sustainable fashion. Therefore, green HR aims to boost environmental awareness and promote an organization’s and its employees’ social and economic wellbeing.
Some common green HR initiatives range from promoting double-sided photocopying to removing plastic cups and straws from the office, using ethical and fair practices, and so on. The benefits of adopting green HR are numerous, including:
- Promotion of green values & behavior: Green HR improves the knowledge of employees and their understanding of environmental values, instilling a more sustainable lifestyle and behavior.
- Increasing the commitment to sustainability: Having a team responsible for preserving the environment and committed to the company’s initiative is a great way to increase efficiency, reduce waste, and fulfill corporate social responsibility.
- Boosting the brand image: Employees feel proud being committed to the environment and their company fulfilling its sustainability responsibilities.
- Attracting job candidates: Lastly, more and more people want to be associated with businesses that respect the environment and incorporate eco-friendly and sustainable practices.
The main reason why HR should be the driver of such changes within an organization stems from its power to adopt engagement techniques, motivational theories, regular meetings that discuss the principles of respect and understanding, as well as analytical abilities that allow HR to rethink functions and align them to where the organization is headed.
How can HR help implement green sustainability practices?
Human resources management is a critical part of an organization that has an essential role when the company is focused on sustainability. The ethical considerations around this role focus on getting an instant and full commitment from employees, which is how HR has the potential to be the moral compass of the organization and promote policies and practices that are sustainable for the workers and the environment.
HR is also involved in occupational health, wellbeing, equality and diversity, strategic planning, counseling, and so on, which is why it is impactful and fit to lead green sustainability practices.
To achieve all of the aR must build strong links with all aspects of the company and ensure that sustainability remains a top priority. From communicating changes to adopting new green policies, it is accountable for transforming the organization and driving changes in the future.
Sustainability is something that every forward-thinking company should be focused on or at least consider when it comes to developing strategies for improvement and growth. Regular meetings where green sustainability practices are discussed can be a great start to a meaningful change, higher employee commitment, and better organizational performance.