Future of Work Conversations

In this episode of Future of Work Conversations, Karin Reiter, our SVP Sustainability & ESG at the Adecco Group, speaks with Holcim’s Chief Sustainability and Innovation Officer. 

During a previous conversation, we explored the shifting role of women in the workplace and the importance of emotional intelligence in leadership. This conversation will take a slightly different tack and look at how sustainability strategy and human capital strategy are interrelated.

Engage employees to tag along

“Most people are very proud to work for a company that is trying to do something for the planet and I'm working for a company that is transforming the way we built to make the world better. So overall, I think we really got a lot of positive answers from people because we were giving them the answers they needed,” said Magali Anderson, Chief Sustainability and Innovation officer at Holcim.

People want to be engaged, said Karin Reiter, SVP Sustainability & ESG at The Adecco Group.
“They want to bring their own values to work, they want to connect to it, but they don't know how they can contribute to the work that you're doing to the net zero targets or targets within the human rights space. So it's how do we enable them and empower them to connect with it,” she said.

Well, it goes from the top to the bottom and from the bottom to the top,” emphasised Anderson. “People want to act, but it takes a huge amount of communication and trainings to make sure everyone knows what to do. As an example, we just launched recently, a programme called Office Goes Green. There are no more plastic bottles in our offices here, but we wanted to engage everyone as we realised that the technical transformation actually was only touching upon a relatively small number of colleagues.” 

You don’t need to have sustainability in your title and irrespective of where you sit in the organisation, you can contribute to a sustainable future, Anderson explained. “Designing the strategy in such a way that everyone knows what they had to do required a lot of work, but this is a way to make it tangible for everyone and show them they can contribute to it as well,” she said.
“Indeed, you are touching upon something very interesting: that you need to bring the whole organisation along on this transformation journey, not just your team or the team that drives the initiative,” said Reiter. 

According to Reiter one challenge today is that we now increasingly talk about Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) as if people look at it in isolation but we need to look at it like the two parts of a helix, much like we do with DNA. 

“Say, for example, in our company if we’re working on our nature strategy, the climate people, the human right colleagues, everyone is here and part of the conversation giving their feedback and opinions,” added Anderson. “This way we won’t forget any angles, we will do something that works for both people and planet.”

Invest in upskilling but new skills is not everything

So it's more a question of using what employees already know, train people properly, and get them to be part of the transformation, let them have an active role in it as per Anderson’s examples. Of course, new skills are needed…but sometimes it’s more than that.

“Now, when we talk about a construction site, this is where you will have upskilling needs to cover,” says Anderson. “For example, in Africa we used 3D printing in Malawi, where we printed the first school. There is a societal gap there and so we could really close that gap much quicker by printing the wards in 18 hours by training people to use a 3D printer instead of laying bricks.”

Despite the fact that many industries know they must upskill and reskill their employees, they fail to take action. “Because there's so many skills, gaps, and bottlenecks, they don't know how to address it. And many companies are reluctant to invest in their people still, despite everything that we know how beneficial it is, just because it's still seen as a cost on the balance sheet rather than actual an investment,” says Reiter.

As Anderson points out, there is a huge shortage of talent. “I just think we can do so much better.”

An important aspect of innovation is diversity of thought

It would be helpful if you embraced diverse perspectives and were multidisciplinary and multifaceted, not just in terms of gender, but also in terms of experiences. “I believe we are still too single-minded when it comes to diversity,” said Anderson. Diversity of thought is critical for innovation teams. The statistics show that diverse innovation teams perform much better than non-diverse ones. “That’s why my team is made up of such a diverse group of people, of different nationalities, and different backgrounds. And that’s why when we do strategy work, I bring everyone together.” We can be biased ourselves, or we come from our own backgrounds, which we think is the correct way to do things, instead of putting ourselves in others' shoes. So much learning that still needs to happen.

In Conversation with Karin and Magali

How do you ensure that you have the right skills, expertise and talent within your organization to make that transition happen?

In this latest episode of the Future of Work Conversations, Karin Reiter, SVP Sustainability & ESG of TAG sat down with Magali Anderson Chief Sustainability and Innovation officer of Holcim to discuss sustainability and human capital strategies, how can upskilling be successful, what motivates people and what good leadership needs to do.

Listen to the full conversation on our podcast

Sustainability and Human Capital Strategies in a Shifting World of Work

Welcome back to Future of Work Conversations, a podcast all about the intersection of human talent, and leadership in the shifting world of work.
In this episode, Ms. Reiter speaks with Magali Anderson, Chief Sustainability and Innovation Officer at Holcim, about the sustainability and human capital strategies, the importance of upskilling in a business’ success, and how leaders can harness their workers and motivate them in the Green Transition. Let’s dive in.