Louisa Noble
Louisa Noble
Group Sustainability Director
Articles 6 min read
16 Nov 2023

Sustainability: The New Foundation of Employer Branding 

Candidates and employees have increasingly high expectations regarding a company’s commitment to sustainability. Ask yourself, is your business cultivating the right culture needed to deliver on your purpose and corporate goals, and in a way that creates shared value for the environment and society? For employers who take these matters seriously, there are clear advantages in terms of recruitment, retention, productivity, and profit.   

Creating a strong employer brand is more than developing a few buzzwords or catchphrases that call your employees to action—and it’s not purely the job of human resources. It’s the organisational process of cultivating the shared values, beliefs, systems, and experiences that guide how employees behave and belong.  

Culture is at the heart of this—an effective culture is one that employees want to be part of. When people experience your culture and talk about it with others, it shapes your reputation. It helps recruit top talent, strengthens brand awareness, and inspires innovation and positive impact. 

Increasingly, effective cultures must help employees meet organisational goals and address social and environmental issues. A recent global survey of 14,000 workers, for example, found up to 70% were more likely to accept jobs with organisations they consider to be environmentally sustainable or socially responsible. A successful culture, therefore, requires a delicate balance between the needs of the business, employees, society, and the environment. Enter: a “Culture of Sustainability”. 

What is a Culture of Sustainability? 

We define a Culture of Sustainability as all the beliefs, practices and systems that lead to healthy, connected, enabled, and empowered teams. Teams that can create prosperity alongside positive social and environmental impact. 

At Sedgwick Richardson (SR), we believe building a thriving Culture of Sustainability is an essential component of sustainable development within an organisation. Our approach to employer branding is highly unique in the market, as it ensures a culture represents a source of identity, innovation, and creativity for the employer brand. 

Build Belief x Prove It 

Many organisations have sought to evolve their employer brand with just one or two marketing tactics or campaigns, touting how their culture has transformed. Often, these efforts fail to catch or stick. On top of this, many stakeholders are now concerned about whether organisations are really living up to their sustainability ideals, or simply “greenwashing”.  

Accordingly, a successful employer brand is one that provides both the inspiration and the proof points—what SR calls a company’s ability to “Build belief x Prove it”. 

Companies can “build belief” in a Culture of Sustainability through leadership, strategy, and communications. They can “prove it” throughout the recruitment journey and tangible programmes, sustainability performance indicators, and workplace experiences that show how they are delivering on their promises. All these aspects must be assessed for strengths, gaps, and opportunities for employer brand differentiation and performance. 

Building a Culture of Sustainability 

So how do you go about embedding sustainability into your organisational DNA? 

SR has developed a methodology that focuses on ensuring the relevant prioritisation of “Build belief x Prove it” to suit a brand’s operational, cultural, sustainability, and talent needs. Our unique approach blends the well-respected Doughnut Economics framework with the internationally-recognised WELL Building Standard®. The method focuses on four key elements: 

  1. Measuring your Culture of Sustainability maturity with an audit, stakeholder engagement, peer benchmarking, and transparent communication focused on talent management practices, culture, and the overall employer brand strategy. This helps us identify opportunities for employer brand differentiation and shared value creation—enhancing competitiveness while also addressing economic, environmental, and social issues. 
  1. Engaging employees and co-creating programmes, which helps employees understand how sustainability is infused across the business, from recruitment and retention strategies to policies and workplace experiences. 
  1. Aligning performance metrics with sustainability targets, joining up the employer brand and sustainability strategies to deliver shared value more effectively. 
  1. Creating leaders across the organisation—our approach ultimately emboldens employees to become ambassadors in telling the company’s story and working more purposefully to deliver on the company’s ambitions. 

A Culture of Sustainability for Your Business 

At SR, we’re dedicated to embedding a Culture of Sustainability in businesses—aligning leadership and teams through comprehensive stakeholder engagement, design, and experiences to actualise a business’s strategy.

Our approach is uniquely tailored to each business context, hiring needs, and sustainability priorities to define and communicate a distinct employer value proposition. And while we acknowledge the importance of programs, policies, and processes, our approach also centres on impactful employee experiences that resonate and endure.

The meaning individuals draw from their working experiences, stories shared and entwined over time, shapes the collective Culture of Sustainability narrative within an organisation. Partner with us to help enhance the employer brand through the powerful, shared narratives, systems, and experiences of sustainability and innovation.

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