HCR Law Events

20 February 2023

Sustainability and attracting key talent

2022 was the year of the Great Resignation. The enforced period away from the bustle of normal life created by Covid-19 gave people time to rethink their priorities. This trend, combined with external factors like immigration changes post-Brexit and flexible working – allowing employers to look nationally or globally in their recruitment – to create some of the greatest workforce movement in decades.

Before 2020, most of our clients would tell us that they could be very choosy about their recruitment. The most common complaint when advertising a new role was filtering down a huge pile of great CV’s. The last 12 months have been very different. In our discussions with local employers in all sectors, we frequently hear about lack of high-quality applicants, and even more worryingly about high turnover at previously stable employers.

Most employers seeking to attract or retain talent have thought about salaries, benefits, flexible working and career progression. An often-overlooked factor is your company’s commitment to sustainability and environmental protection.

A 2020 survey by Censuswide found that 83% of respondents thought their employer was not doing enough to respond to climate change. 65% said they would be more likely to work for a company with strong environmental values. This is particularly evident when seeking to recruit younger employees – at our interviews for trainees we are as likely to be asked about environmental policies and sustainability as we are career progression opportunities. People want to feel good about where they work. Generation Z are increasingly looking for a career with a mission and purpose, and that also means an employer where you can feel good about their environmental credentials.

These demands are not just confined to the workforce. Increasingly, client pitches,  negotiations with suppliers and sponsorship or grant applications all ask about your environmental credentials. If you cannot demonstrate that your business takes sustainability and carbon reduction seriously, many potential partners will rule out a relationship with your brand.

Real sustainability needs to be more than an add-on. It cannot be achieved by simply by replacing event goodies with reusable coffee cups. ‘Greenwashing’ is now a well-known insult levelled at companies who try to add a veneer of environmentalism to carrying on business in the same we always have. It is incredibly obvious to staff and business partners alike and can often be even worse than doing nothing.

So, if your business has not yet started on the journey, what can you do? The first step is to work out where you are. Last year, HCR undertook a significant audit of our carbon footprint and developed a carbon reduction plan, which we are starting to implement. You can read about our commitment here. Working with external consultants to define our starting point helped us to set challenged, but achievable, goals for the progress we will make in the next few years.

If you are taking the first steps in your own business, how about watching our webinar from last year on How to start your Net Zero Journey? Businesses within Cheltenham can also find support here.

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About the Authors
Rachel Roberts, Partner, Deputy Head of Employment and Immigration Team

Rachel Roberts is a Cheltenham solicitor, specialising in Employment and Immigration

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