The Pillars of ESG are a big focus area for many companies. In boardrooms around the world there is a strong impetus to address the topic. However, ESG is not one topic and it is not just about the environment. The environment pillar has been receiving the most publicity, but the other pillars are equally important to creating a sustainable organisation.  

We wanted to understand a bit more about how companies are looking at the Social pillar of ESG and are excited that the results of our survey will be available to share very soon! As a sneak preview, what we found is that, although not necessarily flagged as ESG initiatives, many companies are doing plenty of things that collectively contribute towards the Social pillar goals. DE&I initiatives are one way in which companies are making big strides towards the Social pillar’s aims. Positive steps to make global mobility more accommodating to people with diverse backgrounds is paying dividends. Anecdotally many of the companies we have worked with to make their programmes more DE&I friendly are reporting improvements in the gender balance of their assignee populations and an increase in other forms of diversity as programmes become more adaptable and flexible to the individual needs of employees. There is still a long way to go, but the initial signs are encouraging.

The Social pillar is more than DE&I. Providing equal opportunity and access, social integration, developing cultural understanding, supporting the growth of local talent, robust Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are also important elements of the Social pillar.

By helping globalise the talent pool and deploy critical skills to where they are needed, opportunities are being created for employees to develop experiences and grow beyond the confines of their home location. That experience is often brought back to the home country and used to help grow other employees, cascading development opportunities beyond those who physically worked in another country.  In best in class organisations, inbound assignees are also contributing to the Social pillar through the development of local teams. Increasingly, companies are setting assignment goals to measure the success of assignments. One of those goals is frequently for the assignee to find and develop their replacement from within the host country talent pool.

Likewise, in a recent project, I interviewed key business stakeholders in an FMCG organisation. The feedback I received consistently was that the mobility programme is critical to give future leaders the global mindset, cultural agility and diverse market experience to lead successfully. Their pipeline of future leaders is specifically targeting employees from all backgrounds and geographies so that they gain the experience to grow into global roles. The objective is for the leadership and overall employee profile of the company to accurately reflects the demographic diversity of their customers.

Despite these great examples, in our benchmark survey we found that many companies have not extended their focus beyond DE&I to include these aspects of the social pillar, or they are only doing so on an ad hoc basis. As the value of investing in DE&I continues to become apparent and these other examples shine a light on the potential to influence the Social pillar more widely, the hope is that mobility can further contribute to these wider aspects of ESG.

The full results of our Social Pillar survey are due for release soon. Keep an eye out for them – we look forward to sharing the details with you. 

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