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The triple bottom line approach to sustainability has helped businesses to think equally about profit and the social impact of their operations on people and planet.
We know that shareholders and investors want to support organisations that have good sustainability credentials, something that has once again been confirmed by research from PWC and EY. We also know that younger employees are much more aware of their environmental impact and want to work for organisations that are genuinely concerned about sustainability and climate change.
The problem is that within larger organisations the responsibility for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting is often attributed to a particular role or department; this can lead to it being viewed as an add-on that is somebody else’s responsibility. To successfully meet their ESG goals businesses need to make all employees aware that sustainability is their responsibility.
From my own conversations with people who are in specific ESG roles, it’s clear that one of the biggest challenges businesses face when tackling sustainability is engaging their own people. At Capita, we’ve spent a lot of time sharing how we are progressing towards our own sustainability goals with our 52,000 people. We’re committed to being a purpose-led, responsible business and have set ambitious net-zero targets:
“Ensuring sustainability is threaded through everything we do starts with our culture and values, and the recognition of the key role digital innovation and education play in securing our environment for the future. From our Executive committee to our colleague communities, everyone in Capita has Responsible Business goals driving activity to support our communities and our environmental commitment. To thrive, business must come together to play its part in solving societal and environmental issues. I’m proud of the contribution Capita Experience makes through digital innovation and truly transformative customer solutions.” Hannah Winter, Divisional Head of Responsible Business, Capita Experience
Embedding a sustainability mindset starts with education
Instilling a sustainability mindset starts in school and then it’s the responsibility of employers to ensure that education and learning continues in the workplace. Apprenticeship programmes are an ideal way to do this. If your business offers apprenticeship programmes you’re already showing that you are investing in your people, and it presents you with an ideal opportunity to use the programmes to help achieve your sustainability goals.
The government has already recognised the role that apprenticeships can play. As part of its Net Zero Strategy it plans to align apprenticeships to net-zero objectives through the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s (IfATE) Green Apprenticeships Advisory Panel. This is one way to push sustainability up the agenda and embed it into the skills of the future talent pipeline. At Capita, we build environmental and social responsibility into all our apprenticeship programmes to develop purpose-driven people.
Apprenticeship programmes equip people with functional skills that they can apply in practical situations within an organisation. One of the challenges with addressing sustainability through general learning and development is that you can put somebody on a course, or they can do some online learning, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they will retain that knowledge and be able to apply it practically. It doesn’t necessarily change behaviours or result in an applied skillset. Apprenticeships are different because they embed skills and behaviours into real-life work situations.
At Capita, we work with our clients to tailor apprenticeship programmes to meet their needs and this includes addressing sustainability to help change the mindset of learners, so they understand the importance of personal responsibility. By being more environmentally aware employees can then think about the impact of the business’s operations and, as well as improving their own approach to work, they can also challenge leaders from within to make decisions with sustainability in mind.
By addressing sustainability in all roles and industries, an apprenticeship programme enables employees to understand how integral it is to the way they perform their role. In parallel, this can positively change people’s behaviour both in the workplace and outside. We all know that the only way we will achieve the UK’s net-zero ambitions is if everybody plays their part, and by working together with our clients we can help ensure that apprenticeship programmes are contributing to their sustainability success.
Client Director at Capita
Fiona has worked in the apprenticeship sector for over 25 years. Fiona was originally in a delivery and operations role and then moved to oversee client relationships and business development activity. Working with employers as part of a strategic partnership, Fiona has been passionate about apprenticeships and the benefit they bring to individuals and organisations - including social mobility and increasing the diversity of an organisational talent pipeline. Fiona is currently studying for a level 7 apprenticeship programme to continue her passion for apprenticeships.