Now, I’m not saying that I was a ‘top grad’ by any stretch of the imagination. Graduating in a class of about 700 from the University of Otago, I headed to Auckland armed with my Marketing and Japanese degrees (20 years later I am FINALLY working for a Japanese company – what a long game I was playing!). The reality being I was just happy to have a job, and gave little to no thought to whether my values matched those of the company.

We live in different times. Now top talent wants to know, “Why should they choose to work for you” rather than “them for you”. 

This #woke generation (I am too old to use woke, or even know if woke is still a thing!) have other ideas and you’d better prepare for them if you want to hire them.

In the first of a four part blog series, I am going to highlight some of the questions that grads are asking us about your companies, and some bonus tips on how to answer them so you’re fully armed (you can’t say you’ve not been warned!). First up:

What Is Your Company’s Sustainability Policy?

There has been a huge push on multi-nationals tackling sustainability this year after Larry Fink’s open letter coupled with the attention the Australian bushfires have (rightly) received. Climate change is real and Bernie Sanders’ front runner status at the Democratic primaries confirms what a hot topic it is for everyone, especially millennials.

If you’re reading this in the Amazon offices, you should nail this question, as Jeff Bezos has just pledged a cool 10 billion dollars to address climate change

But what if you’re a SME New Zealand company though? Small changes can add up to big things if your team builds a culture of awareness, and sustainability is something everyone in the company is responsible for, every little bit counts. Here are some simple ideas:

Ditch the paper

If your company has a lot of visitors, contractors and has a half decent health and safety policy then a sign-in book at reception is something everyone needs. Why not replace this with an iPad? No, this isn’t an excuse to make the receptionist redundant (people love a smiling face to greet them, especially in an interview situation), it’s a great way to make use of technology and streamline a process at the same time.

Using Google Docs for project work is a great way to save needless paper from multiple people printing to proofread and update documents. If you use Macs, then why not use AirPlay to display the information in a group setting instead of printouts.

Waste not want not

Using cloud-based technology is pretty much a given in this day and age, but if you do have waste then it’s more about how you dispose of it that counts. The Japanese have been doing this for years, and while this can look daunting, surely you can do better than just “general waste”, “recycling (generic)” and “confidential documentation” (which you will have less of, due to your superior cloud technology). Make recycling easy and encouraged by ensuring your leaders are on board. 

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Travel

If you have a large sales force chances are you are paying a lot in fleet management, car parking and fuel. If your company is in the CBD then you’ll feel the pain around the price of parking (considering the house you could buy in Timaru for the same amount), let alone how long you spend in traffic due to roadworks. Why not look at incentivising staff to use public transport instead of their car? Use pool-cars when you need to see clients, jump on an e-scooter or an e-bike and encourage your clients to do the same.

Gifting

Believe it or not, gifting can be sustainable too! Many organisations are still gifting wine like it's the 90’s. Having some thought put into the types of gifts your organisation delivers to its staff and customers says a lot about you. We are seeing some great traction in gifting live plants, planting trees, and also contributing on behalf of great organisations like KidsCan or the Mental Health Foundation.

The takeout is that it’s about collective action, and getting everyone involved. If you’re not across what your supply chain team is doing around this topic then book a meeting with them and find out. Supply chain has never been the sexiest part of a business to recruit for but check out how the DB team have made their carbon footprint marketable and also tasty

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So, you’ve got no sustainability policy? Well this is your opportunity! Get your new hire involved and excited about a project to change that!

Next time I will look at diversity & inclusion, but in the meantime if you have any great examples of small changes you've made in sustainability, please share! 

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