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Employee-led ideas key to preserving the environment

THE environment and climate change are topics that have been high on the public agenda in recent weeks. Around the world, we have seen millions of young people take to the streets demanding bold action on climate change.

Closer to home, the transboundary haze had hit us at a time when hot and dry weather was already plaguing the region and drove many to realise that climate change is a phenomenon that needs to be addressed immediately.

Consumers are among those at the forefront of this fight. Not only are they more aware of the brands and products they choose to consume, they are also choosing to engage with and buy products from businesses that actively prioritise sustainability initiatives. Research findings from business solutions provider CGS revealed that a third of consumers globally (35 per cent) are willing to pay more for sustainable products, with 28 per cent of consumers having brand loyalty to companies with sustainable business practices.

Businesses too have a moral obligation to safeguard the health of the planet and improve the conditions of a system that has allowed them to achieve success in the first place.

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We have the ability to do so through the products we create and market. The initiatives that we implement as part of a Corporate Social Responsibility agenda play an important role in our fight against climate change. But beyond that, businesses have a valuable asset that can walk the talk and drive real change - our employees.

EMPLOYEES HOLD THE POWER

Any effective change in a business' operations must come from within. By encouraging sustainability in the workplace, we create a shift that brings out the humanity in business, and employees are the best group of people to do so.

Not only do they know their companies best - right from how the business operates to where the inefficiencies lie - they are also the face of a business. Being consumers themselves, they lend credibility and passion to a business' values and beliefs and have the brilliant insights as to what sustainability practices work best for the business and those that consumers want to see.

With sustainability embedded as part of our DNA, our employees at Wipro Consumer Care are empowered to drive company-wide initiatives that aim to make the business a more sustainable one.

In Indonesia, for instance, our employees have utilised the unused space surrounding one of our factories and transformed it into a biodiversity park - a natural habitat of green forests to bring birds back into the area. In Malaysia, the team has also proactively stopped bringing in food in styrofoam or plastic packaging in a bid to reduce the amount of waste generated from these materials.

Such employee-driven initiatives are important to not only make a business more sustainable for the environment, but also result in employee engagement and hence, a greater willingness to contribute ideas on how businesses can live true to their values every day.

TOP-DOWN UNDERSTANDING

To help encourage employee-led sustainability initiatives, decision-makers must recognise the value in how they drive results for the long-term. They are not only beneficial for the environment and the world we live in, but also for businesses themselves. Sustainability initiatives can have a positive impact on brand image, employee engagement and productivity and eventually, a business' reputation. The value placed in these initiatives must be beyond the investment required, as the long-term benefits far outweigh the short-term impact on the bottom line.

Ultimately, the transformation to sustainable ways of working is a journey that involves everyone in a business. The environment is everyone's responsibility and it is on every individual - whether you are an employee or a decision-maker - to create a sustainable future for generations to come.

  • The writer is president - South-east Asia and MENA region, Wipro Consumer Care