Purpose matters: meeting the demand for corporate responsibility

Purpose matters: meeting the demand for corporate responsibility

Hybrid working – and the pandemic that accelerated its rise – has brought about major changes to how people perceive both their own lives and the world around them. This, along with an unpredictable political and economic climate, has shown people what really matters to them – and what they expect from businesses.

Public perception towards businesses has changed since the pandemic, with the rise of hybrid working exemplifying one of those changes. Workers expect more from their employers, and customers expect more from the companies they buy from.

People want to feel more connected to their local communities, and they want their employers to make a positive impact. Indeed, McKinsey research shows that 70% of employees define their life purpose by their work, noting that, “Employees expect their jobs to bring a significant sense of purpose to their lives. Employers need to help meet this need, or be prepared to lose talent to companies that will.”

With this in mind, it falls to businesses to step up to the mark with their corporate responsibility. Here are five key ways your organisation can do this.

1. Ensure ethical supply chains and partnerships

Customer and employee loyalty is affected by a company’s ethical stance, but it’s easy to forget that this extends to who that company does business with. Reviewing your supply chain and ensuring that it’s ethical and sustainable is vital to meeting not only industry-wide sustainability targets, but also customer and staff expectations.

For example, it’s important to recognise that your business’s own emissions are only part of the story. According to the CDP Global Supply Chain Report, supply chain emissions are an average of 11.4 times higher than operational emissions, equating to as much as 92% of a business’s total emissions. This makes addressing the supply chain key to your environmental, social and governance (ESG) efforts, giving your procurement team a vital role in your overall approach.

2. Do more for important causes

PwC’s Workforce of the Future survey is among those that corroborate the claim that younger workers want to work for purpose-driven businesses, finding that “88% of them want to work for a company whose values reflect their own”. It stands to reason, then, that your talent attraction and retention can be boosted by talking to your team about what causes they want to support and how.

This offers a unique opportunity for companies to integrate social responsibility initiatives into their business model. One approach could be offering a paid day off for volunteering or endorsing apps like OnHand to encourage and facilitate corporate volunteering.

3. Embrace a network of local flexspaces

A key advantage of hybrid flexspaces is their locality, offering hubs near employees' homes. This minimises daily commutes, encouraging eco-friendly travel like walking, cycling, or public transport over driving.

The benefits of a local workspace also come into play when we look at the 15-Minute City. More than ever, urban planners and councils are introducing measures to enhance town environments. The aim: to turn “previously sleepy dormitory towns” into vibrant centres for work and community life,” where commerce, accommodation, education and greenery are all within reach. Of course, cutting transport emissions, and enhancing living conditions too. Flexspaces empower workers to spend more time in and around their community and enjoy local amenities. 

Moreover, according to the UK's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, offices — which comprise around 20% of non-domestic building stock — are among the largest consumers of gas and electricity as a proportion of total building consumption. Local workspaces, however, notably reduce building-related emissions, partly by maintaining higher occupancy rates and utilising more efficient energy systems, thus maximising resource use and minimising waste. In fact, IWG’s own hybrid workspaces have been certified carbon neutral.

4. Upgrade to eco pension schemes

Some agency owners and environmental advocates, such as the Clean Creatives Pledge, have used social platforms to champion ways in which leadership can better support their staff while helping the environment. This includes upgrading to eco pensions, made possible thanks to a growing range of ESG funds. These are defined by Robeco as “portfolios of equities and/or bonds for which environmental, social and governance factors have been integrated into the investment process.” Take inspiration from the local governments divesting from carbonin their pension schemes.

5. Start the journey to B-Corp status

B-Corp status is the ultimate mark of a company’s ethical credentials. B-Corps reportedly benefit from a raft of advantages, including: “Faster growth in turnover and employee headcount and higher expectations about future growth; greater levels of employee retention, engagement and diversity; more robust governance processes; greater focus on civic and community engagement; higher levels of innovation and success at securing external finance.” In short, embarking on the B-Corp journey not only elevates your company's ethical standing but serves as a catalyst for broad-reaching positive change.

These five ideas are a great starting point for strengthening your corporate responsibility measures. If you’re wondering where to begin, discover how an enterprise-level IWG membership can help your company move towards a hybrid model and enhance your corporate responsibility credentials, with advice on your workplace strategy and access to 4000 flexible workspaces worldwide.