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Exclusive: What role should HR play in sustainability? 4 top tips for the future



What role should HR play in sustainability? 4 top tips for the future

#role #play #sustainability #top #tips #future

Without doubt, sustainability is the challenge of our times.

In fact, 92% of people are worried about sustainability – with a third very concerned.

More than 60% of consumers have reduced their use of single-use plastics, 39% have reduced the volume of goods they buy to become more sustainable, and 30% are consuming less meat or animal products.

Sustainability really matters to so many people; people who are also your employees.

In fact, 67% of Gen Z respondents of a study by consultancy group Anthesis said that sustainability was important when choosing a company to work for, and other generations weren’t far behind.

So, not only is taking a strong stance on sustainability the right thing for companies to do, employers need to become more sustainable to keep up with their employees’ needs to attract, retain and engage top talent.

However, who should take on responsibility for what an organisation does about sustainability? Should it fall to HR?

Here’s what we cover in this article:

Sustainability – should HR take the lead?

There are various views on the role of HR when it comes to sustainability.


Discussions aren’t helped by the fact that environmental sustainability and business sustainability are often blurred – as in, making the business resilient long-term, particularly in terms of people.

There’s a clear case for HR taking the lead on the second.

But the case for HR taking the lead on sustainability across the entire organisation can be uncertain.

The main reason for this is simple: environmental sustainability simply must be a whole-organisation issue.

Sustainability is changing the way people do everything; it determines the jobs they choose as well as the products they buy.

The idea that sustainability is an HR responsibility because ‘it’s about people’ doesn’t really hold up.

HR can’t take on company environmental sustainability as part of their ever-growing workload, especially as 60% of HR leaders have seen an increase in their workload since the start of the pandemic, our research found.

There does seem to be confusion in organisations about this today, however.

Our research also found that a quarter of HR leaders are already leading sustainability efforts in their organisation – and 40% of C-suite execs believe HR is leading sustainability.

So, HR teams are already driving sustainability efforts in companies, and in some cases, there’s an expectation from the executive team for this to be the case – even if HR teams feel this shouldn’t fit in their remit, or have the resource to do so.

A state of play many HR leaders may be familiar with, as the role of HR continues to expand and take on more and more areas of responsibility outside their traditional wheelhouse in organisations.


What role should HR play with sustainability?

Of course, this doesn’t mean HR can’t take a strong stance and play a part in building more sustainable workplaces.

In fact, we’ve already published an article on this subject and there’s so much HR can do to showcase their stance and lead by example.

It makes perfect sense for any responsible organisation to integrate sustainability into all processes where possible.

In our HR in 2030 report, April Marcot, chief people officer at recruitment and HR services firm McArthur, highlights sustainability as “something else that workforces will expect a much more serious attitude towards”.

Meanwhile, Linda Holbeche, co-director of the Holbeche Partnership, explains that HR will need to play some role: “HR will also have to support in pushing through an environmentally friendly agenda to align with focus on these areas within society as a whole.”

So, what can HR and People leaders do to drive sustainability in the HR function, as part of wider strategies across the business?

Here’s four areas HR leaders can get involved in within People strategies and processes for a more sustainable future.

1. Ask your employees what they need to help make their organisation more sustainable – and act on feedback

While you’ll want company leadership as a whole to lead the overall discussion on sustainability, HR can be a great facilitator of an open dialogue between the team leading sustainability and your employees.

As the values and demands of both the business and your people will change over time, it’s important to keep the conversation going and find out what your employees really want to help make their organisation more sustainable.

You’ll find employees will have no shortage of ideas on this topic.

Keep listening to employees to gauge sentiment shifts. For example, if you’ve implemented something new, has this increased positive views on what the company is doing?


What new things are they concerned about, or do they have ideas on adopting more sustainable approaches to new company developments?

It’s important to act on feedback, but remember, you can’t do everything at once.

Use employee feedback to understand what their priorities are.

What areas are they most concerned about? Where can the biggest wins be made?

This will help you prioritise your sustainability efforts.

By asking your workforce to rate different strategies according to what they feel is most important, the company can then attribute change directly to employee input.

2. Work with the organisation to create a sustainability team

There will be no shortage of advocates for sustainability within your organisation. Tap into their enthusiasm and desire for change.

A green team, a group of individuals focusing on the company’s greener efforts, could be a good place to start for them to make suggestions and changes within your organisation.  

While this might not be something you’d look to lead, HR could certainly help to form the group and bring ideas to the table, such as charity days focused on sustainability and team beach cleans.

Larger companies may also have a person or a team dedicated to sustainability.

If you’re a midsize or larger company and you don’t have this in place, then there’s a role for HR to play in establishing this and getting buy in from the board.


This also means any sole responsibility can move away from HR and into this team – a win-win situation.

3. Seriously consider the role of hybrid working

This is an area where you really can lead from the front.

We already know that hybrid working can enhance your recruitment and retention efforts, but it can also help reduce pollution if employees have the flexibility to work from home.

Find out what your employees want in terms of hybrid working and travel, then set out clear policies for your organisation, so employees know where they stand.

After all, with 90% of employees saying they want flexibility in when and where they work, hybrid working models are here to stay.

4. Read up on sustainability practices and HR’s role

Even without leading sustainability in organisations, HR and People teams still have a role to play.

Business leaders are attuned to the fact becoming greener as a business attracts more customers and can power growth – if efforts are authentic and drive real change.

As a result, sustainability is top of mind for many company bosses. And all business leaders have a role to play, including HR.

There’s a wealth of information available to HR leaders, so keeping your finger on the pulse is vital.

Take time each week or month to understand what other HR leaders are doing, discover best practices, and take time with your team to elevate work you’re leading on, or playing a part in, on your business.

Our article on the top nine ways HR teams can drive sustainability, and our research report, HR in 2030, – which looks at how HR’s role will shift and change in this area – are both great places to start.


Sustainability is a team effort and the responsibility of everyone

The sustainability of organisations is crucial to the future of our planet, and important to both your existing employees and future hires.

If COP26 is to meet its targets, private enterprises must be involved, and so all organisations must make sustainability a priority, led by those with the scope to enforce business-wide policy and governance.

And while HR have a part to play, it absolutely shouldn’t sit within your remit.

HR leaders have too much on their plates to entirely lead efforts on this, too. Instead, HR should focus their efforts on where they can make a difference in their HR processes and practices, and lead by example to encourage and bring employees together on the topic.


Exclusive: 3 Home Improvement Stocks That Can Renovate Your Portfolio –




3 Home Improvement Stocks That Can Renovate Your Portfolio

#Home #Improvement #Stocks #Renovate #Portfolio

During a bear market, home improvement stocks have historically been solid defensive plays

The housing sector is slowing down. Rising mortgage rates are having the predictable effect of cooling down demand. – MarketBeat

Or are they? While homeowners may not be able to get the same premium they could command just one year ago, there is still an ample supply of homes on the market. And once these homes change hands, new homeowners will be ready to make their new house their own.

However, that’s not the only catalyst for home improvement stocks. Homeowners who are deciding to “love it” rather than “list it” are likely to put some money into one of their largest investments as they wait for the housing pendulum to swing back in their favor.

In this article, I’ll give you three home improvement companies that continue to generate strong revenue and earnings. And two of these companies are also members of the exclusive Dividend Aristocrat club. These are companies that have increased their dividend for at least 25 consecutive years.

If that’s the kind of balance of growth and income that appeals to you, it may be time for you to consider these three home improvement stocks.

Lowe’s (LOW)

Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW) stock is down about 30% in 2022. That’s larger than the broader market. But in the last month, the stock is showing signs of forming a bottom. And with the stock near its 52-week low, it may be time for investors to take a closer look at the stock.

The driving force for that sentiment may be the company’s earnings. In May, Lowe’s closed out its fiscal year. Revenue growth came in at an uninspiring 1% growth. But earnings were up 19%. Even if companies are heading into an earnings recession, a P/E ratio that is slightly below the sector average means it’s likely that Lowe’s will be able to post growth, albeit perhaps slower growth, in its next fiscal year.

And Lowe’s offers investors a rock-solid dividend that it has increased in each of the last 48 years. The current payout is $3.20 per share on an annual basis, and the company has averaged 17% dividend growth over the past three years.


Home Depot (HD)

Just as investors can debate Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) versus Pepsi (NASDAQ: PEP) among consumer discretionary stocks, they can frequently plant their flag with Lowe’s or Home Depot (NYSE: HD) when it comes to home improvement stocks.

To be fair, neither of these stocks looks like a bad selection for investors who are concerned about a recession. Home Depot delivered a strong earnings report in May 2022. Revenue was up 3.8% and earnings per share were up 5.8%. The company delivered strong same-store sales growth that was due in large part to its relationship with professional contractors.

Of the three stocks in this article, Home Depot has the largest dividend yield (2.68%) as well as the largest payout ($7.60). And while it’s not a dividend aristocrat the company has increased its dividend in each of the last 14 years.

Sherwin Williams (SHW)

Paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to give a house a refreshing update. And as we move into the fall, homeowners attention turns to finding that perfect swatch of paint to transform a room. That’s enough to put Sherwin-Williams (NYSE: SHW) on my radar and perhaps yours as well. Historically the current quarter and the following quarter are the company’s strongest in terms of revenue.

But the skeptics will point to the fact that earnings have been a mixed bag. The company has missed analysts’ expectations in two of last four quarters and in the other two the gains were on the tepid side. And I’ll concede that a mixed earnings outlook will probably bring current price targets down from their 30% upside.

That being said, SHW stock offers both growth and income which is appealing in this volatile market. Sherwin Williams dividend yield of 1% isn’t likely to make income investors swoon. But the company does payout $2.40 on an annualized basis. The company also sports a three-year dividend growth of 24.26% and has increased its dividend in each of the last 44 years.

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Exclusive: VW and Goldman-backed battery maker Northvolt gets $1.1 billion funding injection –




VW and Goldman-backed battery maker Northvolt gets $1.1 billion funding injection

#Goldmanbacked #battery #maker #Northvolt #billion #funding #injection

Northvolt’s most recent funding announcement comes at a time when major economies are laying out plans to move away from vehicles that use diesel and gasoline.

Mikael Sjoberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Electric vehicle battery maker Northvolt on Tuesday announced a $1.1 billion funding boost, with a range of investors — including Volkswagen and Goldman Sachs Asset Management — taking part in the capital raise.

In a statement, Sweden-based Northvolt said the $1.1 billion convertible note would be used to finance the company’s “expansion of battery cell and cathode material production in Europe to support the rapidly expanding demand for batteries.”

Other investors in the raise include Baillie Gifford, Swedbank Robur, PCS Holding and TM Capital.

Northvolt recently said its first gigafactory, Northvolt Ett, had started commercial deliveries to European customers. The firm says it has orders amounting to $55 billion from businesses such as Volvo Cars, BMW, and Volkswagen.

Gigafactories are facilities that produce batteries for electric vehicles on a large scale. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been widely credited as coining the term.

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

Northvolt’s most recent funding announcement comes at a time when major European economies are laying out plans to move away from road-based vehicles that use diesel and gasoline.


The U.K., for instance, wants to stop the sale of new diesel and gasoline cars and vans by 2030. It will require, from 2035, all new cars and vans to have zero-tailpipe emissions. The European Union — which the U.K. left on Jan. 31, 2020 — is pursuing similar targets.

As the number of electric vehicles on our roads increases, the competition to develop factories capable of manufacturing EV batteries at scale is intensifying, with companies like Tesla and VW looking to establish a foothold in the sector.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Northvolt’s CEO and co-founder, Peter Carlsson — who previously worked for Tesla — was bullish about the future. 

“The combination of political decision making, customers committing even more firmly to the transition to electric vehicles, and a very rapid rise in consumer demand for cleaner products, has created a perfect storm for electrification,” he said.

According to the International Energy Agency, electric vehicle sales hit 6.6 million in 2021. In the first quarter of 2022, EV sales came to 2 million, a 75% increase compared to the first three months of 2021.

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Exclusive: Activating Purpose Inside One of America’s Largest Banks –




Activating Purpose Inside One of America’s Largest Banks

#Activating #Purpose #Americas #Largest #Banks

In 2022, Purpose has moved from the periphery of company strategy to its core. The Purpose Power Index 2022, the first empirical study of Purpose based brands, confirms that Purpose significantly contributes to increasing people’s willingness to buy from and work for a company. 

Despite this growing understanding, a big challenge remains. Only 10% of CMOs have activated their Purpose inside and outside their organizations (Kantar). And among those who do, recent studies indicate that 80-85% of Purpose initiatives fail in execution. 

So, who is doing it, and doing it well?

Vinoo Vijay is Chief Marketing Officer at Truist, one of the largest commercial banks in the nation. He also happens to be one of the top CMOs in the country who is activating the company’s purpose effectively. This interview puts Vijay at the center of activating purpose. He agreed to talk to me, and he relishes the opportunity to pass on what he has learned in the process. 

1.   What is Truist’s Purpose?

Our purpose is to inspire and build better lives and communities. This purpose has been our core grounding from the inception of Truist three years ago. It’s clear to us that scaled modern banking is just table stakes.  What drives us, and makes us distinctive, is our absolute commitment to our shared purpose, mission, and values. Our belief is that a reimagined combination of touch and technology, combined with our deep teammate, client and community focus, puts us on the path to live our purpose every day.

2.   When you were considering the offer to come to Truist and how did you know you’d be collaborating with leaders who believe in building a purpose-driven bank?

Your question includes an important and correct assumption. I had no interest in being the CMO of just another bank. I had already served as CMO at TD Bank, as well as created and ran brand and marketing at Ally Financial.  What was, and is, important to me is having an active and positive impact on colleagues and communities, and it was obvious as I spoke with Truist leaders that they were deeply driven by purpose. Even now, we center our work in purpose. It’s a constant reminder of our why.  And because we are a wholly new brand and reimagined bank, we have an incredible opportunity to translate our purpose intention into a genuinely different kind of banking experience.

3.   Knowing that Truist’s Purpose is larger than simply increasing the number of new checking accounts, why does it need a purpose?


For the longest time the key focus and message of banking was around security. Imagine the imposing bank branch with six-inch thick walls protecting your money. That era was followed by one that emphasized scale. The sheer power of size. Think 60-story buildings. And for the last 15 years or so, the industry focus has been digital utility as digital became ubiquitous. Maximizing utility within our mobile six-inch screen. In the last couple of years, we are seeing a shift towards a focus on the communal. What I mean by that is, we’re recognizing that we don’t live in a vacuum. That we have shared experiences. And our actions impact others, and the actions of others impact ours. Think six degrees of separation multiplied. Our collective wellbeing is inexorably linked. This era demands that we find and create shared, common purpose beyond ourselves. In fact, we crave it. Whether as a teammate, or as a client. So the question now is not whether we need purpose, but how well can we deliver on purpose for our teammates, clients, and communities. Just as security, scale, or digital utility was the hallmark of our past, purpose is the blueprint for our future.

4.   Communicating that purpose must be challenging. In a new study, less than 25% of CMOs are not activating the company purpose; what’s been your strategy? 

Challenging, yes. Impossible, no. Activating purpose presented wide open whitespace for Truist. Banks do well meeting the functional banking needs of clients and communities. We get the functional job done. But the emotional needs. The more human needs. The needs that, if met, reinforce trust and commonalities. That inspire and build better lives and communities. Those needs aren’t typically being met by financial services providers. We knew that if we could find a way to both reinforce internally and, establish externally, our legitimate claim of being a more purposeful bank, we could stand apart. To your point, however, the language and visualization of purpose can lack believability and feel trite. It’s easy to be cynical about emotional attributes. Truist’s approach has been to go at it from the inside out starting with leadership. Our Truist Leadership Institute specializes in leadership development that focuses on the whole person and how their beliefs, especially their purpose, influence their leadership style. Leaders are tasked with not only identifying their purpose, but writing it down and leading from their personal purpose.

As we thought about how to translate our intention into an external narrative, we looked at language we already use internally. One of our key values is Care. Care is an encompassing word. It’s intentional. It’s focused on others. It alludes to a belief in and departure from industry indifference. It speaks to how we show up for teammates, clients, and communities.  So we leaned into that word, and framed our position that “When you start with Care, you get a different kind of bank.” And we believe that to be true.  Care can affect how people experience the brand.  And if we can apply the power of a safe, scaled, digitally capable bank – with Care – then we will create a different kind of bank. That promise is how we think about our strategy, our experience development, our teammate development, and a  vibrantly local community approach.

5.   Truist today is everywhere, on TV, on billboards, on social media, on sports stadiums, how important is it to build your brand?

We are a new brand. And our scale demands we are in the top 3-5 bank brands in terms of awareness and consideration. Given there are several industry brands that have close to 100% awareness, we have our work cut out for us. As we journey there, our approach is to lean into what makes us unique – our purpose, a relentless pursuit to activate our purpose through Care, our focus on human touch and technology, and our vibrantly local emphasis on community engagement. 

6.   It seems like the CMO function is undergoing change.  What do you see in the future of Marketing and the role of a CMO?

I’ve been in the marketing function for almost 30 years and have been head of marketing or CMO for more than a decade. The marketing function has gone through a couple of key evolutions and is going through one now. Thirty years ago, the big shift in marketing was enabled by the emergence of relational databases. That put marketers on the front end of direct marketing acquisition strategies.  The emergence of digital was the next transformational moment, driving marketers to become CRM and client experience champions. Now, I think the shift is toward deepened integration of brand and purpose. Marketers need to be the champions of purpose, always connecting the work to the deeper “why.”

7.   So when you’re sitting around the table with Bill Rogers, the CEO and Chairman of Truist, talking about strategy and what to do next, what keeps you centered? Do you think about the purpose on a daily basis? 

I do. My personal purpose is to elevate the power of care and joy in my daily life. For me that means using every interaction to exchange a little bit of care, a little bit of joy with whomever I am with. I find the more honest and authentic I am, the better my chances are of having interactions that result in successful exchanges of care and joy. At the end of the day our lives are made up of millions of individual moments. The more of those moments have heart and happiness, the more I think our life is one well lived.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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