How to Create A More Ethical and Sustainable Workplace
Businesses are no longer purely judged on their ability to provide high-quality products which please customers, but their business practices and their impact on society and the environment are highly monitored and scrutinised. Whilst many of us at home are making changes to reduce our carbon footprint, it is often the biggest corporations that are failing to do the same. Following pressures to make a change, these corporations are slowly making changes to become more ethical and sustainable and it is time everyone else followed suit. Below are a few simple ways to create a more ethical and sustainable workplace, and although they may be small, they can make the biggest difference.
Opt For a Green Energy Supplier
One great way to make a workplace more ethical and sustainable is to use a green energy supplier. These suppliers will only ever provide energy from 100% clean sources. People may get the impression that green energy is much more expensive, yet prices are very similar to regular suppliers, so saving the environment won’t be too costly. Also, many smaller green energy suppliers can offer deals that compete with the prices offered by mainstream providers so it is definitely worth looking into this. A simple switch will make a big difference, so take the plunge!
Although this may seem like a small one, ensuring that all lights are turned off and that no piece of equipment using electricity is left on won’t only help the environment, but also the businesses bank accounts. According to the ‘Powering the Nation’ study by Energy Saving Trust, between 9-16% of the electricity consumed in homes is used to power appliances when they are on standby mode. If this is the case for an average household, can you imagine how much energy and money would be wasted in an office full of appliances that could have been used elsewhere!
Know Your Supply Chain Inside and Out
Many businesses have had supply chain ethics scandals, with things such as forced labour being a sad reality, as cheap and unethical labour drives companies profits. Ensure that the products you are responsible for are responsibly sourced. Know where it is from when it was made, and who made it. Know every detail about where the resources come from. Be in control of all this information to run an ethical business.
Encourage Green Living
According to the RAC Foundation, there are 26.5 million working people in England and Wales, with 16.7 million of them either driving themselves to work (15.3 million) or catching a lift (1.4 million). This is extraordinarily high and could be changed if employers were to encourage and praise green commutes. From the perspective of an employee, try carpooling, taking public transport, cycling or walking into work. If a car is completely necessary, invest in an electric or hybrid car. For the employer, if you want to sustain an ethical workplace, then praising those who choose greener methods is a great incentive. For example, an extra holiday, a slight bonus or special perks. If all the employees in a company made the effort to use greener methods then you’d be moving towards great change and it will become the norm. When it comes to travel for work, perhaps consider using video conferencing rather than flying staff or to meetings.
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle!
Going paperless wherever you can make a great difference. Implement paperless document storage, move to paperless pay slips and meetings, and favour electronic communication over letters. In the cases where the paper is required, ensure it is properly recycled. Also, there are also many ways to reduce the use of plastic. Encourage employees to use reusable cups for their coffee and reusable water bottles throughout the day, provide compostable tea bags and a food waste bin in the staff room, offer water and compostable plastic cups (yes, these are a thing!) and reduce plastic packaging wherever possible. Putting a small team of people in charge of this can encourage all workers to go green. Many large businesses such as supermarkets are feeling the pressure and making changes, as every business should.
Bring Some Green to the Office!
Finally, encouraging staff to bring desk plants into work can improve air quality, offset chemicals and make a cleaner and happier place for people to work in. Maximise the natural light in the office too, as it is suggested it can improve the productivity rate (as well as helping the new plants in the office!). Relying on natural light will also help to save energy. Where this isn’t possible, switch to energy saving light bulbs. There seems to be a recurring theme here, but this small swap will once again save money as well as energy!