• Future

More Sustainability for
Your Social Ecosystem

  • Future

Livable as a work­place, climate-friend­ly, social­ly respon­si­ble and future-orient­ed lead­er­ship – modern enter­pris­es are already doing so much more than simply show off their ecolog­i­cal aware­ness through soli­tary measures. And that’s a good thing, too. Sustain­abil­i­ty has made it into the minds of people. Only, at many places, there is a strug­gle going on for the best solu­tions. More often than not, it is sustain­able lead­er­ship that is giving every­body the hard­est time – in other words the ESG factor Gover­nance1. At irreg­u­lar inter­vals, Valdivia Future intro­duces novel and uncon­ven­tion­al solu­tions revolv­ing around this topic – such as the CEO Day  or the Pac Man Strat­e­gy. In their latest Glob­al Human Capi­tal Trends Report,2 Deloitte describe a glob­al approach to this: Enter­pris­es should plan their entire ’social ecosys­tem’ more sustain­ably and act upon it – which means this would not only include involv­ing their own staff but also plan­ning and acting togeth­er with and for every­body who is linked to them.

Soli­tary Steps Don’t Cut It

Accord­ing to the Deloitte report, many enter­pris­es cut down on busi­ness trips or use more sustain­able work­ing mate­ri­als. This, howev­er, will neither lead to a more sustain­able HR strat­e­gy nor will it make the organ­i­sa­tion of work itself more sustain­able. An increas­ing volume of ques­tions about work­ing condi­tions, social atti­tude, or concrete sustain­abil­i­ty measures from staff members, share­hold­ers, super­vi­so­ry bodies, the media, or poli­tics may count as a first indi­ca­tor for a deficit in this field.

Over­com­ing the wide-spread silo mental­i­ty can be a first step towards a solu­tion: A more holis­tic perspec­tive on any work area and strat­e­gy that is direct­ly aimed at people, such as HR Market­ing, health manage­ment, local social projects, etc, is called for. It helps to be aware of poten­tial obsta­cles – which, again accord­ing to Deloitte, may be a lack of resources but also exter­nal limit­ing factors (corpo­rate rules, laws, regu­la­tions) and most of all inflex­i­ble corpo­rate cultures with over­ly slow proce­dures and long-wind­ed deci­sion-making processes.

Approach­es to More Sustain­able Social Ecosystems

At this point in time, sustain­abil­i­ty compen­ten­cies are all too often limit­ed to pure­ly tech­ni­cal ques­tions of the ecol­o­gy, e.g. CO2 reduc­tion. What is need­ed for the social ecosys­tem, on the other hand, are ’soft skills’ – empa­thy, for instance, and think­ing across borders. Ideal­ly, all protag­o­nists with­in the social ecosys­tem should bene­fit from this – this would not only include your own employed staff but also your free­lancers, your suppli­ers and providers, as well as your local community.

The Skan­dia Navi­ga­tor3  was a very early approach to factor­ing social eco-systems. Skan­dia is a Swedish finan­cial service provider and insur­ance compa­ny. As early as in 1994, the Navi­ga­tor was devel­oped as a system for eval­u­at­ing the intel­lec­tu­al ’capi­tal’ of an enter­prise. It only takes into account employed staff. And yet, from the very begin­ning, it featured a number of para­me­ters of a person­nel-orient­ed sustain­abil­i­ty concept. The Navi­ga­tor allows for the deter­mi­na­tion of an enterprise’s abil­i­ty to strate­gi­cal­ly renew itself, to see and under­stand oppor­tu­ni­ties, and to preserve its compet­i­tive­ness in a sustain­able way.

Fash­ion compa­ny Ever­lane is a more recent exam­ple: They do not only routine­ly check their own measures but also the work­ing coni­di­tions, salaries and train­ings their suppli­ers offer. The Hilton Hotel corpo­ra­tion chose a very uncon­ven­tion­al approach by specif­i­cal­ly search­ing and employ­ing indi­vid­u­als who had fled the pandem­ic as well as refugees affect­ed by human trafficking.

A Holis­tic Model for Your Social Ecosystem

The Human Capi­tal Trend Report outlines a three-step solu­tion for enter­pris­es to secure and increase sustain­abil­i­ty in their social eco-system:

  1. Good, Sincere Communication
    Exec­u­tives and also middle manage­ment should commu­ni­cate sustain­abil­i­ty goals and measures in a consol­i­dat­ed way, both inter­nal­ly and exter­nal­ly. This includes a sincere progress report. Anoth­er recom­men­da­tion is to provide train­ings on rele­vant sustain­abil­i­ty topics for your staff as well as to moder­ate change manage­ment with sensi­tiv­i­ty when new tech­nolo­gies and proce­dures are intro­duced for the sake of better sustainability.
  2. All-Stake­hold­er Collaboration
    For the second step, Deloitte recom­mend to build on a coop­er­a­tive basis: New sustain­abil­i­ty strate­gies are better devel­oped in close collab­o­ra­tion with as many stake­hold­ers in your social ecosys­tem as possi­ble, from outside the enter­prise. Topics can range from ecolog­i­cal aspects to social programs, or health, safe­ty, the staff’s well-being at the work­place, or New Work models (remote work, etc).
  3. Prospec­tive Planning
    Addi­tion­al­ly, Deloitte recom­m­mend you have a future-proof HR strat­e­gy: Train­ing your employ­ees as early as possi­ble before antic­i­pat­ed changes occur. Newly-employed staff members ideal­ly already possess the required skills and abil­i­ties when you hire them. And, final­ly, emer­gency programs can help to prepare for and prompt­ly respond to unfore­see­able developments.

All this sounds like a lot of effort, but it is worth it: Accord­ing to Deloitte, enter­pris­es with a holis­tic sustain­abil­i­ty strat­e­gy are much more like­ly to be success­ful with regard to their employ­ees and busi­ness results.


1 from ESG for envi­ron­men­tal, social, gover­nance – areas in which enter­pris­es are to achieve the 17 sustain­abil­i­ty goals as agreed by the Unit­ed Nations in 2015.

2 New funda­men­tals for a bound­ary­less world – 2023 Glob­al Human Capi­tal Trends Report: down­load

3 A tool simi­lar to the Balanced Score­card (BSC) for the eval­u­a­tion and manage­ment of intel­lec­tu­al capi­tal: read more – the author’s person­al market experience