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Human resource (HR) professionals play an important role in improving a firm’s social performance and can help integrate sustainability initiatives across the firm, according to a recent study carried out at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).

The study, by Daniel Beaupré, Julie Cloutier, Corinne Gendron, Amparo Jiménez, and Denis Morin, collected evidence from businesses across a range of sectors in Quebec and France to better understand the relationship between HR practices and the integration of sustainability activities.

Integrating Sustainability into HR Policies Improves Social Performance

Researchers found that firms that adopt new HR practices and integrate sustainability principles better:

  • Attract and retain a qualified workforce and young people.
  • Improve employee well-being, motivation, and skill development.
  • Reduce costs related to mental health problems.
  • Improve their image as a good corporate citizen.

How to Embed Sustainability into HR Practices

Human resource practices include training initiatives, work-life balance programs, occupational health and safety, equitable and incentive-driven remuneration, and management of diversity, talent and succession. Activities in these areas incorporate sustainability when they:

  • Respect employees’ fundamental rights.
  • Encourage skill development and application.
  • Foster a sense of employee fulfillment.

Such practices balance financial and social performance, which helps firms thrive in the long-term.

Be Resourceful: Leverage HR

Companies should make HR professionals strategic partners in embedding sustainability in corporate culture. Leveraging HR will enable you to work in a cross-disciplinary manner, to better orient, communicate to, and train employees. This will help support the integration of sustainability across your organization.

Source

Beaupré D., Cloutier, J., Gendron, C., Jimnénez, A., and Morin, D. 2008. "Gestion des Ressources Humaines, Développement Durable et Responsabilité Sociale.Revue internationale de Psychosociologie. 33.24: 77-140.