CHROs emphasise the pivotal role of HR in the ESG agenda

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Focusing on the ESG agenda is the right thing for organisations concerned about the sustainability of the world, say HR leaders.

The country’s challenging landscape can at times make it difficult for organisations to navigate the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) demands within an organisation. According to Dieter Veldsman, chief scientist at the Academy to Innovate HR, people are key to driving the ESG agenda, and HR is positioned well to influence this across the business.

“ESG is about managing risks and making conscious decisions on how the organisation engages with the world, acts responsibly as part of the community, and upholds excellent ethical practices.”

He notes that sustainability has been top of mind for business over the last decade, it is just that there is a sense of urgency around it now.

“Many organisations have committed to a net-zero future with promises regarding changing supply chains, eradicating fossil fuels, and adopting environmentally-friendly business practices.”

Yolanda Manganye, human capital executive for Africa and Asia at Momentum Metropolitan, says for their organisation ESG means enabling the dignity of their clients, while ensuring the economic transformation of our communities.

“This is core to our purpose. To this end, ESG is a big part of enabling this. Key to enabling economic transformation of societies is financial inclusion, which speaks to having access – speaking to financial cover and protection to be less vulnerable. Our focus here is on expanding our distribution networks to be able to reach people, and digital transformation to help increase the footprint in order to reach a broader audience, so we can provide financial counselling and education in the communities in which we operate. We are also driving awareness around health and financial wellbeing, empowering all to take control of their wellness, to be able to make better decisions by providing relevant tools and resources to facilitate this.”

She adds that a further focus at an organisation level is to help to reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint through focusing on investments that drive aspects such as renewable energy, and the like.

“A few examples of this is how, as an organisation, we have transformed our packing pods in all our campuses to have solar panels, which will be used in those buildings, cutting the use of electricity. We are changing behaviour in the organisation about things like plastic use in the organisation, and shifting culture to do better.”

Sandi Richardson, HR executive at RCS, similarly adds that their commitment to ESG is integral to their HR offerings.

“We place ESG principles at the heart of its business operations. We recognise the importance of prioritising our employees and the communities they are from, ensuring that they reap the benefits of our corporate social investment (CSI) initiatives.”

Sandi adds that the organisation also has various initiatives, including a bursary programme designed for the children of eligible staff.

“Additionally, we have established onsite clinics to provide primary health care services to our teams and suppliers, fostering a healthier workplace. Collaborative community partnerships, such as those with JAG, RCS Gugulethu and WPDI, provide alternative paths for youth from vulnerable communities.”

 

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