The Great Resignation has given employers and CW programs an increased desire to pay attention to employee needs in a much more holistic way — needs such as action on environmental, social and governance issues, on top of or as a significant part of company culture.

Events of the last few years — from Black Lives Matter to #MeToo and Covid-19 to #climatechange — have driven expectations that corporations act on environmental, social and governance issues. According to research from PwC, 83% of consumers think companies should actively shape ESG best practices, while 86% of employees prefer to support or work for companies that care about the same issues they do. Meanwhile, investors are increasingly applying non-financial factors to identify risks and growth opportunities for companies.

According to Dawn McCartney, SIA’s VP, CWS Council, more and more companies are promoting their stance when it comes to ESG. “What once was something maybe mentioned in their annual report is now being shared on their website, via social media and during company meetings,” she says. “We see these organizations moving to be a more inclusive and empathetic culture, which is so needed and wanted right now. These are the organizations that will be able to not only attract talent but will be able to retain the talent too.”

But is the message carrying through to the contingent workforce?

Partnering with your organization’s ESG team in connection with your contingent workforce can provide huge benefits when it comes to showing the care your company provides for your consultants and can be a big selling point for recruiting.

ESG programs can address:

  • Remote work. Is flexibility balanced with productivity and engagement?
  • Mental health and well-being. Are there resources available, and is it accepted to use them?
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion. Is DEI tracked? What is the methodology used?
  • Pay transparency. Is there pay parity?
  • Whistleblowing. Can issues be reported without fear of repercussion?
  • Employee engagement. How do you know who is engaged (surveys, focus groups)?
  • Worker activism. Is there a healthy environment to support activism?
  • Health and safety. Are there adaptable programs that address Covid-19 and other threats?
  • Human resources policies. Are these outdated or fit to purpose based on current needs?
  • Climate change. Does your company actionably seek to mitigate climate change?
  • Community relationships. Is the company a proactive part of the fabric of the community?
  • Executive leadership and shareholder rights. The US Securities and Exchange Commission is paying increased attention to ESG matters.

A reasonable first step is to conduct a survey or audit to see where there are opportunities in your contingent workforce program to improve existing practices. The next could be to track progress and link compensation to ESG goals. Then, take a look at the ESG criteria your company has in place that you can apply to your program to attract candidates and suppliers.

ESG programs can be a key differentiator for your company and your CW program by showcasing the care your company has for its people, the environment, shareholders and the community. Use ESG as part of your overall strategy for your program to improve and deliver a better value proposition.

Further discussion on how organizations can utilize environmental social governance and wellness for their total workforce will take place during an SIA webinar on Aug. 25.