Sustainability, new work, purpose. How are those connected?
March 25, 2022
June 23, 2022
What do you think about, when you think about sustainability? Most business leaders associate the word with the environment, the climate, and of course - green technology. But solar cells have been invented in 1883, the greenhouse effect has been discovered even earlier (in 1824), and the World Economic Forum was founded more than 30 years ago with the goal to raise awareness about the impact of technology-driven business on the planet. So why does it take so long, where do we take too much time, the wrong decisions, unethical ones, where do we fail - as organisations and society to drive change? Exactly: It's all in the workplace!
Although new work has become just as important as sustainability during the pandemic, most see both trends as separate fields of work. The connection between environmental and organisational change is largely underestimated, if not completely overseen. But both are connected, even interdependent. In fact, the transformation of work is the key to a sustainable economy (hear why in our recent episode of the Make Purpose Work podcast with Daniel Groos and Dorothea Starke from Sharkbite Innovation).
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The connection between how we work and sustainability are captured by the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (this is why there are 17 and not just 1). In fact, all of the SDGs have a relation to the workplace in terms of opportunity for learning, development, and remuneration - especially in the developed world where what you work is directly connected with our place in society.
Moon Shots for Management
Even before the SDGs have been adopted in 2016, the world's global leaders knew that the global economy and the digitalization require a change in the workplace. In 2009 HBR published an article by Gary Hamel called "Moon Shots for Management" that summarized the changes required by leadership, and the workplace respectively.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) Principles
In addition, environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria are also becoming increasingly important. The momentum is driven by new rules in the EU, such as the EU Taxonomy Regulation and the draft Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) as part of the EU Green Deal.
All of those frameworks drive the holistic thinking about our "global village" where one part can't change without influencing the other. As work is the center of economic activity for 4.3 billion out of 7 billion people in the world, transforming organizations so that their talents, interests, and jobs is key to moving the needle in both speed and opportunity to take the right choice, invest in the right projects, come up with the right ideas and priorities for sustainable action. New work is the key to a sustainable economy.