Seven Ways Leaders Can Embed Sustainability Into Their Talent Strategy

Our recent Lesson in Leadership webinar focused on sustainability through the talent lens and our Global MD & EMEA CEO, Sarah Skinner spoke to the Advertising Association’s Director of Communications, Matt Bourn and Ad Net Zero Chair, Sebastian Munden, and co-authors of the recently published book ‘Sustainable Advertising’, a manifesto on how advertising can support a better future. Whilst much attention is given to how leaders can de-carbonise operations and the use the power of advertising to drive behaviour change, the discussion specifically focused on how sustainability can and must be a core part of any leader’s talent strategy.

There is overwhelming evidence that companies committed to sustainability are more attractive to current and prospective talent.  People want to work for businesses who are committing to sustainable practices, but a gap exists between what talent desires and how companies are communicating their sustainability efforts.

Grace Blue are proud to be the first executive search firm to join Ad Net Zero as we passionately believe in the role that leaders should take when it comes to sustainability and this sentiment is echoed by Matt and Seb in the opening chapter of ‘Sustainable Advertising’ with the quote, ‘All change starts with a moment of leadership’.

Taken from the webinar discussion, we have listed seven actions leaders can take to embed sustainability through their approach to talent.

1. Change starts at the top. Sustainability isn’t a separate initiative, but must be interwoven with your core business strategy. Ensure your leadership team is fully aligned behind this.

2.Set clear sustainability KPIs as part of your employee objectives. Directly tie delivery of these KPIs to bonus incentives. Reward and recognition is proven to incentivise action at every level.

3.Do not underestimate the role that sustainability plays in your employer brand at attracting the best talent from beyond the industry as well as the next generation of talent. Ensure that any briefs for external hires include your company’s sustainability pledge and credentials. Make sure that this is a core part of your employer brand communications as a tool for talent acquisition and retention.

4.Take a pulse check through your employee engagement surveys by including specific questions regarding your company’s approach to sustainability. How do your employees perceive your sustainability efforts. Are they motivated?  Do they feel empowered to contribute?  Addressing their concerns fosters a culture of ownership and accountability.

5.Be accountable and transparent about your sustainability progress. Publicly share your achievements, challenges, and future goals.  Many companies, like those joining Ad Net Zero, demonstrate accountability by setting net-zero targets.  This transparency helps to builds trust with employees, consumers, and future talent.

6.Sustainability education is crucial. Include sustainability training programs in your learning and development initiatives. A climate-literate workforce can make informed decisions that strengthen your overall sustainability efforts.  There are training programs, guides and action plans available at Ad Net Zero as well as some guidance on greenwashing and misleading environmental claims from the Advertising Standards Authority.

7.Leading on sustainability isn’t just good for the planet, it’s also good for future-proofing your career. Grace Blue is seeing more Boards seeking Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) with demonstrable experience in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance).  By championing sustainability, you’re not just building a better future for the planet, you’re also setting yourself up for the next stage in your career should you wish to build a Non-Exec portfolio.

By integrating sustainability into your talent strategy, you’ll attract top talent, empower your workforce, and build a future-proof organisation. Watch the full recording on Vimeo.

Order your copy of ‘Sustainable Advertising’ on Kogan Page now.