Louisa Withers | 20 Oct 2020

‘Green HR’ gains prominence

Climate change remains one of the key issues of our generation and responsibility falls on all of us to be more sustainable, including businesses. IDR’s 2020 survey on the impact of climate change on HR policy and practice received responses from 87 firms shows ‘Green HR’ gaining in prominence.

Just under half (46%) of organisations have a ‘green’ policy – these typically cover conserving resources, climate, governance and legal compliance, and corporate social responsibility – and a fifth (18%) go further by linking environmental responsibility to performance in some way.

Almost a third of respondents have a dedicated role that specifically looks after organisational culture in relation to climate change or environmental policies rather than responsibility for such matters spanning a number of functions, often including HR, facilities and senior leadership teams.

In many cases employees drive pressures for employers to be more environmentally friendly and reusable water bottles (47% of organisations), more vegan/vegetarian food in canteens (40%) and carpools (31%) are the most popular initiatives used by employers to encourage staff to be more environmentally friendly.

The most popular eco-friendly facilities implemented by organisations are the use of recycling bins (89%), encouraging employees to switch off lights (82%) and encouraging employees to turn off computer monitors (80%) – which can also provide cost savings over the longer term.

Looking ahead, 15% of organisations in our sample plan to implement a ban on single-use plastic, with a further 23% aspiring to do this in the future. 22% of respondents plan to offer ‘carbon credit cards’, which give employees points for environmentally-friendly actions, and 18% of organisations aspire to implement free transport links to/from work.

While climate change and related matters are regarded as being an ‘occasional’ (44%) focus for HR teams, just under three-quarters (73%) of organisations anticipate the issue taking on greater significance in 2021.