Article: World Environment Day: How companies are embracing sustainable practices to protect the planet


World Environment Day: How companies are embracing sustainable practices to protect the planet

How companies are stepping up to embrace sustainable behaviour to promote green culture in the workplace.
World Environment Day: How companies are embracing sustainable practices to protect the planet

Climate change and sustainability are no longer confined to boardroom discussions. Creating a sustainable future starts with each one of us adopting green behaviours. A sustainable workplace has become essential for a healthier planet.

Saving water by replacing nozzles, replacing plastic pens, bottles, and cutlery, encouraging people to carpool, use of energy-efficient equipment, and prioritizing the use of software over paper; plantation drives, rainwater harvesting, Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) goals, transparency on daily food wastage, waste management workshops, cleaning drives, and green commuting are some of the green behaviours that are being encouraged by the corporate world in India. By adopting these green behaviours, organisations aim to create eco-friendly workplaces and contribute to a sustainable future.

As an organisation, says Pankaj Khanna, Chief People Officer, Coforge, we believe it is imperative to support communities and conserve nature so that we can nurture and create a tomorrow for our future generations.

Small initiatives matter

Organistaions have started leading by example. At GlobalLogic India, employees are encouraged to do things to make a difference in the world. “We have replaced nozzles to save 8,00,000 liters of water, replacing plastic pens, bottles, and cutlery helped us save 260 kgs of plastic,” says Rajesh Rai, Vice President – People Team and Head of Human Resources GlobalLogic India. They have also planted more than 5000 indoor plants to increase oxygen levels inside the office. Employees are also encouraged to use electric vehicles for their transport.

E-commerce player Flipkart has implemented practical measures to conserve water resources. “Finding sustainable solutions is not simply a goal for us. It is part of our DNA and is something we’ve consistently engaged our employees on,” says Nishant Gupta, Head of Sustainability, Flipkart. “From employing advanced STP water zero discharge systems, encouraging responsible waste segregation, to rainwater harvesting, our measures are guided by an acknowledgment of the issues that need to be addressed proactively.”

Organisations like Statiq are engaging their employees in sustainability efforts, by focusing on two key strategies: integrating sustainable practices into daily operations and encouraging community involvement.

“Promoting the use of digital documents to reduce paper consumption, utilising energy-efficient equipment, and encouraging carpooling or the use of public transportation are some of the ways sustainability is made a natural part of our work culture,” says Doli Kalita, L&D head, Statiq.

Employees are also motivated to participate in community sustainability initiatives including local clean-up events, tree planting, and environmental education programme. “These efforts not only benefit the environment but also strengthen team spirit and foster a sense of pride and purpose among employees,” adds Kalita.

At CEF Group, quarterly sessions that involve employees' families are conducted. "These sessions are aimed at making the community understand the importance of organic farming, household waste management, and eco-friendly practices. Also, educating the employees on effective household waste management is a key part of our engagement strategy, which we do now and then," explains Priya Singh, HR, CEF Group.

Emphasizing “Zero Harm, Zero Waste, Zero Discharge, Vedanta has incorporated sustainability into all its practices. “By introducing the Electric Vehicle Policy for all its employees Vedanta has incorporated environmental consciousness & sustainability,” says Madhu Srivastava, CHRO, Vedanta Ltd.

Sensing the importance of engaging employees in sustainability efforts, an essential to fostering a culture of environmental responsibility, Habeeb Khan, Head of People & Culture, WiseX, says that the organisation leaders must support & champion sustainability & create strong, measurable frameworks. 

Shoma Narayanan, Managing Director, and Head - Group Strategic Marketing & Communications, DBS Bank India, believes that it is important to recognise the power of collective action. “In partnership with like-minded organisations, we have developed impactful volunteer programs to reach the most vulnerable and address critical issues. Our volunteering efforts focus on three areas: and the environment is one of them.”

To further promote engagement DBS employees are offered two paid leave per year for volunteering. “In 2023, our employees volunteered over 20,700 hours,” informs Narayanan. Sustainability-focused employee engagement programs, including donation drives, knowledge-sharing sessions, and workshops on sustainable travel, food choices, and composting are other initiatives organised by DBS.

To engage employees in sustainable activities and bring together sustainability-minded people, Fidelity International has a Sustainability Ambassador programme. “It is a global, cross-business initiative to connect with sustainability-minded people, from all levels, who work to amplify company-wide efforts at the local level. They can also get actively involved in sustainability initiatives and working groups within the organization that deliver change and influence our culture further,” says Sunil Dhawan, Director - Corporate Property Services, at Fidelity International.

Overcoming challenges

To enhance engagement, DBS launched the inaugural People of Purpose Awards in 2023 to celebrate teams and individuals who have gone above and beyond in their volunteer efforts. “By recognising outstanding contributions and highlighting the power of purpose, we hope to inspire our colleagues to join us in driving positive change,” adds Narayanan.

To overcome the challenges, Vedanta focuses on behavioural change, resource constraints, and stakeholder alignment.

According to Madhu Srivastava clear guidelines, incentives, and recognition encourage sustainable actions by its employees.

Promoting sustainability in the workplace comes with its own set of challenges. Resistance to change, cost consideration, and lack of awareness or understanding are some of the biggest challenges Bikano faced while promoting sustainability in the workplace.

To overcome these challenges, Ankit Aggarwal, HR Head & CIO at Bikano, suggests education and training, conducting the long-term financial benefits of sustainability initiatives, involving employees in decision-making processes, and encouraging their active participation in developing and implementing sustainability initiatives.

Promoting sustainability at HFCL involves several challenges, says -Sanjay Jorapur, President - HR, HFCL. "To address the challenge, HFCL used  robust policies and continuous education to raise awareness and foster ownership among employees," says Jorapur.

One of the primary challenges Infogain faces is the lack of awareness among employees. "Many may not fully understand the importance of sustainability or how their actions contribute to overall goals," says Rajiv Naithani, Chief People Officer.

To combat this, Infogain regularly distributes informative email campaigns and newsletters that educate the team on various sustainability topics. “Additionally, we also use the workplace, our internal social media communication tool, to disseminate sustainability communication, tips, success stories and pertinent information,” says Naithani.

To cultivate sustainable habits among employees and transform offices into models of eco-consciousness, NeoGrowth offers skill-based learning and development, specialised training programs centered on environmental stewardship, safety, health, and compliance. 

"These initiatives serve a dual purpose: cultivating sustainable habits among our employees and transforming our offices into models of eco-consciousness. For instance, we have implemented digital documentation processes to minimise paper usage and installed motion-sensing water taps to promote efficient resource utilization and raise awareness about water conservation," says Arun Nayyar, MD and CEO, NeoGrowth.

Fostering a deep and lasting behavioral change among employees, and measuring the impact of sustainability initiatives were significant challenges for Xoriant while promoting sustainability at the workplace. "We focused on continuous education and engagement to address the issue, making sustainability an integral part of our corporate culture," says Krupa NS, CHRO, Xoriant.

Similarly, Leena Wakankar, CHRO, ASK Asset & Wealth Management Group, highlights the lack of understanding among employees about how their actions impact the environment as the biggest challenge. Resistance to change is another challenge for her. Hence, she overcame this by involving employees early in the planning and decision-making and creating dedicated teams to champion these changes.

Regular communication, sensitisation of the causes, and various initiatives are critical in ensuring continued engagement. World Environment Day presents a pivotal opportunity to address pressing environmental challenges. This year, the annual event is being hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with a focus on land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience.

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Topics: Business, Economy & Policy, Strategic HR, #DayInFocus, #SustainabilityForPeople, #HRCommunity

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