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Sustainability: What are the Trends for 2022?

IN: Sustainability.25 JANUARY, 2022
Sustainability: What are the Trends for 2022?

In the current scenario of international efforts to circumvent the consequences of Climate Change, the contribution of Companies is essential to achieve the goals postulated in the Glasgow Climate Pact and, therefore, it is expected that in 2022 Companies will invest in more Sustainable practices .

Therefore, we leave you with some Sustainability Trends that we will see companies adopt – or reinforce – in 2022:

  1. ESG – Environment, Social and Governance
  2. Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions
  3. Circular Economy
  4. Hybrid or Remote Work Model
  5. Concern about Mental Health in a Work Context

ESG – Environmental, Social and Governance

The acronym ESG – Environmental , Social, Governance – describes the areas that characterize sustainable, responsible and ethical investment and is a reference for business practices and investments that have sustainable development as their ultimate goal.

  1. Environmental - Reflects business behavior in relation to any and all environmental problems – climate change, biodiversity or pollution .
  2. Social – This area encompasses social issues and concerns, including issues of inequality, equity, inclusion, employee well-being or human rights.
  3. Governance - Understands issues related to corporate governance structure, remuneration or communication style .

ESG dominated corporate discourse in 2021, but will gain new emphasis in 2022.

The Corporate Impact on Climate Change and Biodiversity is a growing concern at a global level, which will drive organizations to develop and implement more positive strategies for the environment.

In the new calendar year, Companies are expected to focus on the “S” of “ESG”. The Global Investor Study shows that 57% of Investors say that, due to the current pandemic context, social problems have become more important to them . Therefore, and as we will explore further on, in 2022 we may see greater concern with pay equity, diversity, employee well-being or social inclusion programs.

In general, the population is becoming more aware of the impact of their choices, which will lead several companies to implement or reinforce more sustainable practices and to invest in ESG as an indicator of a set of standards and good practices that define a Socially conscious, sustainable and properly managed company, in order to become more appealing to stakeholders .

As far as ESG is concerned, Microsoft is the Company is one of the companies that stands out on the international scene. At an environmental level, it aims to promote sustainable development, which is why, among many other examples, it has been carbon neutral since 2012 and is committed to being carbon negative and zero - waste by 2030. In the social field, believes it has a responsibility to ensure that the technology developed is beneficial to all individuals and argues that Companies “can and should do more”, therefore supporting human rights, addressing systemic racial inequality and advocating inclusivity for all. As far as Governance is concerned, Microsoft knows that its decisions affect employees, customers, partners, shareholders, suppliers and communities, so it considers their opinions and seeks them out. Each year, the company receives input/opinion from millions of people – whether they are individual customers, legislators or global human rights experts.

To learn more about ESG, click here .

 

Reduction of Carbon Dioxide Emissions

The “ Carbon Offset ” is a strategy to reduce or compensate for greenhouse gas emissions and occurs when a Company finances projects that remove or prevent the release of greenhouse gases. The projects in question can be simple projects (planting trees) or complex projects (developing technology that captures greenhouse gases from the atmosphere).

This strategy to combat Climate Change is already common in Sustainability circles, but with the increasing need to develop and become more appealing to stakeholders , companies with high levels of greenhouse gas emissions will be pressured to implement measures that compensate its negative contribution to Climate Change.

Major League Soccer, the American Tennis Association, NASCAR, the New York Yankees and the New York Mets are some of the Organizations that have already adhered to this strategy, namely by offering thousands of stoves to developing countries on the African Continent, including Mozambique and Zimbabwe. How are these Projects beneficial?

  1. Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions - According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 2.6 billion people still cook over polluting open fires or kerosene, biomass and coal-fired stoves. So, by using more sustainable stoves and fuels, they are reducing their greenhouse gas emissions – when compared to the emissions of previous methods.
  2. Quality of Life: The use of polluting cooking methods impairs domestic air quality and, according to the WHO, 4M individuals die prematurely from diseases attributed to air pollution. Thus, the quality of life of Individuals who benefit from the use of more sustainable stoves will be higher, because the quality of domestic air will be higher.

 

Circular Economy

The Circular Economy is the idea that all products should be designed to be reused and shared, rather than discarded. Thus, according to this philosophy, products must be developed and shared in a sustainable way.

In a Circular Economy, among others, a product can be:

  1. Disassembled and its materials used for the development of other products;
  2. Sold/Sold (and repaired if necessary) after being used by a consumer;

VIGGA, a Danish children's clothing company, bases its business philosophy on the Circular Economy. When you subscribe to this brand, the consumer receives 20 pieces of clothing – of high quality – which are available for a monthly price. In the event that a part is damaged or does not fit, the consumer can replace it without any additional charge. Subsequently, the exchanged garments are evaluated, washed and distributed to other subscribers, but if they are damaged, then they are sent to the factory, where they are transformed into material for the production of new garments. Through this philosophy, VIGGA has reduced textile waste by 70-85%.

Although it is still a recent trend, it is expected that the Circular Economy will become more relevant and appealing in 2022, not only because it is environmentally sustainable, but also because it is more economically sustainable, which makes the Circular Economy appealing to people. most diverse industries.

 

Hybrid or Remote Work Model

The Remote Work and Hybrid Models gained relevance in 2020, due to the various periods of Confinement decreed by Governments, and the trend of Remote Work and/or Hybrid is expected to continue in 2022. It is a less conventional Sustainability trend, but surprisingly effective.

The Work Models in question benefit not only Organizations, through resource savings, increased productivity, flexible hours and a lower level of turnover , but also protect the Environment.

  1. Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Increase in Air Quality
    • The Remote and Hybrid Work Models reduce travel to the workplace, which reduces the use of private vehicles and reduces greenhouse gas emissions – as there is a drastic reduction in the use of fossil fuels.
    • In this scenario of reducing the emission of greenhouse gases, and according to the United Nations, there was - during the lockdown periods - an increase in Air Quality, in various parts of the globe. As an example, we highlight Southeast Asia, which recorded a 40% reduction in the level of harmful particles in the air caused by traffic and energy production.
  2. Reduction of Plastic Consumption
    • When they work at the Company, and due to the greater need to buy and/or transport beverages and food – Employees use more plastic bottles, cups, utensils and packaging. When working from home, Employees tend to opt for non-disposable products, which reduces the individual use of plastic products.
  3. Reduction in the use of Paper
    • When working in the Office, Employees tend to print a lot more than necessary, as they prioritize sharing documents in physical format and not online. On the contrary, when working from home, Employees share the necessary documents online, through various platforms.

According to recent studies, it is noted that a considerable percentage of Employees are adept at Remote or Hybrid Work Models - which shows that this is beneficial for the Employee, for the Company and for the Environment - but it is essential to adjust them so that they become Working Models that protect and enhance the Employees' Mental Health.

According to the APA (American Psychiatric Association), most employees say that working from home has negative impacts on their mental health – isolation, loneliness and difficulty getting away from work at the end of the day were some of the consequences mentioned. . Additionally, it appears that there is still a social stigma in talking about Mental Health in the workplace, whether with colleagues or superiors.

When we mention the concept of Sustainability, it is important to consider not only its Environmental aspect, but also its Social aspect. Based on this, the Remote and Hybrid Work Models present themselves as Environmentally Sustainable Models, but may fail to be Socially Sustainable Models.

Automattic – an American software development company – is an example of success in terms of the Remote Work Model. The Employees of this Company work remotely and can do so from the location they wish most – home, café, library or any other – which gives them additional flexibility and allows them to diversify the Employees' working days. Additionally, and among others, Automattic holds an annual meeting with all its Employees, offers the necessary work setup for Employees to carry out their duties, provides services and benefits of health, well-being and coworking allowance – if they are working from a cafe, they can use this subsidy to pay for what they have consumed, for example.

 

Concern about Mental Health in a Work Context

In a context of Social Sustainability, 2022 is expected to be a year in which the concern with Mental Health in a Work Context increases. In the next calendar year, it is expected the continuation of the destigmatization of mental health, a greater provision of psychological support to Employees, the promotion of work environments that prevent Burnout and greater literacy and education in Mental Health.

De-stigmatizing Mental Health: With the increase in the challenges imposed on the Mental Health of Employees, the need to combat the stigma associated with diseases and psychological disorders also increases, as this is a barrier to the search for care, support and treatment, which can have even more negative consequences for the health of Employees. Whether in emails, in meetings or in casual conversations with Employees, talking about stress management , self-care and mental health will be more common.

Psychological Support for Employees: Therefore, and as the challenges of Employee Mental Health become increasingly evident, so do their expectations of support from the Employer and what was previously seen as an exception ( psychological support to Employees), could become the norm in 2022, especially in highly competitive sectors. As such, it will be more common for Companies to facilitate the provision of psychological support services to their Employees.

Construction of work environments that prevent Burnout : Studies show that business leaders recognize Burnout as a problem that affects their Company and its employees and that increases turnover and, additionally, several Employees say that Burnout is a reason for who are looking to change jobs. As such, and in order to become more appealing to the Internal Customer, More companies in 2022 are predicted to take proactive steps to address organizational shortcomings that contribute to Burnout .

Increase in Mental Health Literacy and Education: With the aforementioned increase in various psychological disorders, business leaders need to be more vigilant for warning signs. To equip the former with the skills and knowledge to do so, it is expected that in 2022 more companies will offer training, coaching , webinars and/or workshops – online, in person or mixed – that focus on Mental Health issues and that equip those responsible tools that enable them to create a more positive work environment for the Mental Health of Employees and that foster their resilience.

Barclays positions itself as a Company committed to creating a culture that is open to disability and mental health issues. Through the “This is Me ” programme, Barclays encourages Employees to tell their personal stories, which changes perceptions of disability, mental health and neurodiversity in the workplace. Additionally, it also provides resources and support for its Employees to feel more confident in their own skin. In 2013 – the year the program was developed – only 9 colleagues shared their personal experiences, but currently that number has risen to 250 Employees. The result? The number of Employees who shared that they have a disability, a neurological disorder or a mental health problem increased from 3% to 11%.

 

As we have seen throughout this exhibition, Sustainability, in all its aspects, is a prominent area for most Companies and will continue to be so in the next calendar year. Because we are aware that the power to change is in each of us, Bright Concept is committed to measures and practices that reflect the principles of environmental, social and governance sustainability . Want to adopt a more sustainable identity and don't know how to do it? Contact us .

 


Nádia Marques