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Purpose and diversity among top focus for HR teams and boards

More organisations are understanding the benefits of these practices to help business growth.


HR teams and boards are now recognising the benefits of focusing on purpose, responsible business practices and diversity when it comes to business growth.


The Reward & Employee Benefits Association (REBA) and Mercer Marsh Benefits (MMB) has shared in survey findings that 95% of firms are committed to becoming purposeful responsible businesses in order to help drive business growth.


While perceptions are changing among HR teams and boards, more work still needs to be done to embed these beliefs in workplace culture, particularly among line managers as just 47% of respondents stated that their line managers care about employee wellbeing.


As part of the Aligning corporate culture and human values report, acting responsibly in line with business practices was highlighted. It stated that factors such as employee expectations, pressure from investors, reputation management and a recognition that acting responsibly is the ‘right thing to do’ are all contributing to this change in thinking.


The report identified that six out of 10 firms have utilised organisational purpose to enable them to focus on becoming a long-term sustainable business. But it also showed that more work needs to be done as just over half of businesses cited that climate change and environmental issues are a high priority board level value.


Director of the Reward & Employee Benefits Association, Debi O’Donovan, said that boards and chief executive officers (CEOs) should lead on their HR teams to meet environmental, social and governance (ESG) measures.


“We are increasingly seeing shareholders invest elsewhere when businesses cannot demonstrate responsible business values,” she explained.


“To meet ESG measures, CEOs need the insights and skills of their HR teams. Many HR and reward teams are increasing their focus on the ‘S’ within ESG, primarily through employee wellbeing, and are also starting to focus on environmental issues.”


Driving diversity

Recognition of the link between workplace diversity, equality and inclusivity (DEI) and business sustainability are among some of the factors now starting to influence executive-level focus.


In fact, the report shared that 78% of respondents consider DEI as a priority at board level. However, while the importance of DEI is recognised, 50% of those surveyed stated that their line managers were committed to DEI, and 18% stated commitment to DEI was rarely seen within their organisation.


Michelle Sequeira, UK DEI consulting leader at Mercer, continued: “DEI and wellbeing currently represent the dominant priorities, however many organisations are taking a more holistic position on the framework of responsible employment practices that raise levels of decency and fairness.


“Responsible employers will design a complete employee experience, covering rewards, skills and careers, often through a DEI lens.”

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