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Human Resources: The Hidden Heroes of Sustainability

When you think of sustainability, you might picture beautiful countryside, renewable energy systems or climate activists. You probably won’t think of Human Resources, however HR teams are key actors when it comes to shaping an organisations culture and values.

HR is the only department that is connected to every person, at every level of an organisation – putting them in an ideal position to embed sustainability throughout a business and ensure that everyone is on-board. This is why HR teams and leaders are becoming increasingly recognised for their significant role in promoting and implementing sustainability values, practices and strategies within an organisation.

The letters HR with illustrations of three people in front of the letters along with magnifying glasses employment contracts and other work based symbology.
Sustainability and HR

Green Recruitment

Recruitment is just one of the many areas HR are closely involved with. HR can ensure that on top of having the skills needed to fulfil a role, candidates are engaged and interested in sustainability and can bring the skills needed to contribute to sustainability strategies. The HR team can support managers and directors to understand the benefits of adding sustainability into job roles, and encourage them to make it standard practice to include sustainability skills and interests in job specifications.

Inviting people to interview that have sustainability knowledge, interest or passion can help your organisation reach its sustainability goals. But it's also important to show candidates your commitment - a study by Glassdoor found that 79% of job seekers in the UK, US, France and Germany consider a companies mission and purpose before even applying.

Sustainability Training

Sustainability is a rapidly growing field with new information and tools emerging all the time. HR teams can offer training opportunities to all employees, highlighting suitable courses and engaging with suppliers (like us!). Adding sustainability training to your existing offerings, can indicate to your teams the importance of the topic. So, not only can HR provide the opportunities, but they can also improve employee awareness of the sustainability goals within the organisation. (Lucky for you, you don't even have to find the courses- we have lots to offer, which you can check out here).


HR already play an important role in the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within an organisation through training or general best practice. Diverse teams bring greater knowledge sharing, range of experiences and innovative ideas – so, ensuring that sustainability teams and/or initiatives are EDI conscious seeks to provide greater benefits. HR can therefore play a vital role in ensuring that the sustainability initiatives and efforts within an organisation are inclusive and consider the needs and contributions of all diverse perspectives.


Who better to inspire and shape company culture than HR? By emphasising sustainability from the moment someone walks through the door, through the onboarding process and via continuous communication of sustainable practices, goals and activities HR can play a significant role in bringing an organisation closer to its sustainability goals.

Human Resources can be major drivers for creating a culture of sustainability by encouraging employees to actively participate in sustainability initiatives. This can be through many different channels such as in employee contracts, creation of benefits or incentives for sustainability conscious behaviours, and promoting sustainable schemes across a companies real estate.

Human Resources teams are also in the best position to work and communicate with other departments to establish key performance indicators (KPI) to create and track collective sustainability goals. They can also aid in the development of carbon reduction initiatives or help create policy change that will positively impact people and planet.

What can Human Resources do to get started with Sustainability?

We have recognised the crucial role that HR has within an organisation and promoting sustainability practices. But, we also know that it is not an easy process. So, if you need some additional support on how you can begin or level-up your sustainability strategy, then join our ‘Sustainability and Net Zero for HR’ course here.

A poster for Change Agents UK new course titled Sustainability and Net Zero for HR


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