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19 Aug 2022
by Robin McConnell, Aisha Mpinga

Don’t forget ESG and DEI in your global rewards strategy

Companies need to stay current and attuned to their employees’ needs, enabling them to design and deliver forward-thinking rewards and benefits

Don’t forget ESG and DEI in your rewards strategy if you want to stay relevant.jpg 1


When evaluating a company’s total rewards strategy, some aspects of an organisation’s core values, such as environmental, social and governance (ESG) and diversity, equity and inclusivity (DE&I), can easily be overlooked.

Without consideration of these values, however, companies risk reducing their ability to recruit and retain key talent. This is especially true with younger and/or underserved demographics, where a company’s values are all the more important. This is particularly true in today’s challenging labour market.

As a result, forward-thinking and progressive employers are beginning to reassess their reward and benefit offerings through the lens of ESG and DE&I, ensuring their programmes are equitable and inclusive of the diverse needs of all employees. 

Make ESG and DE&I part of a global strategy

Organisational values such as ESG and DE&I can be integrated into global reward and benefits programmes in several ways.

There is rarely a one-size-fits-all approach to designing and delivering effective total reward programmes that truly fulfil the needs of today’s workforce. When considering organisational values in this context, it is important to avoid historical biases and/or over-correcting to address the latest hot topic or trend.

Remaining focused on what is most relevant to your workforce, ensuring that your approach is aligned with company goals, values, and key business objectives will enhance the overall effectiveness of your total rewards offering. Ensuring that your benefits strategy is supported by effective communications will further increase employee engagement and commitment.

Get employee feedback through integrated surveying

Assessing the unique needs of a diverse workforce requires leaders to organise an effective channel to solicit employee feedback and input. One way to do this is to integrate employee surveying into the total rewards framework. This will enable organisations to understand the biggest drivers behind employee motivation, while gaining a better understanding of ESG and DE&I’s true impacts on benefit programme offerings.

This also enables leaders to better understand how DE&I and ESG are interlinked, further informing benefit programme decisions to drive inclusion, wellbeing, and engagement.

A well thought-out programme design that incorporates employee preferences, promotes total wellbeing and provides ample choice will significantly contribute to driving sustainable growth, through the elimination of barriers such as employee absenteeism, high turnover, and disengagement.

The reality is that employee diversity, sophistication and awareness of social responsibility has increased dramatically over the past decade or two, and have been magnified even further during the past couple of years due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s crucial now, more than ever, that companies stay current and attuned to their employees’ needs, enabling them to design and deliver forward-thinking rewards and benefits that have a positive and measurable bottom-line impact.

ESG and DE&I from an international standpoint

Multinational organisations which are not operating with ESG and DE&I  in mind will lag behind those companies that do, especially in the war for talent. Internationally, ESG and DE&I values are being discussed more and more in a benefits context, as global organisations recognise that applying these principles can build competitive advantage, regardless of industry or geographic region.

However, ensuring that the benefits agenda – and communications supporting the agenda – are culturally appropriate is paramount to success.

In many European countries, for example, governments are starting to pass legislation that further supports diversity and equality in the workplace, including benefits such as mandatory parental leave. However, most countries, especially developing countries, still have a long way to go in this area.

This is important because while there may well be a lot more to do to fulfil some aspects of DE&I and ESG, many countries remain focused on what we might describe as the “traditional idea of the family,” driving many facets of life including employment.

Ultimately, businesses should not only seek to use employee surveying as an important tool in their benefits strategy and planning armoury. They should also look to leverage employee resource groups or work councils/unions, as well as local third-party expertise when deploying elements of their broader reward and benefits philosophies at the local level.

Regardless of the global workforce complexities that companies face, employee needs should remain at the core of well-implemented reward and benefits philosophy. If business leaders wish to achieve employee commitment and engagement, they will have to take a step back and analyse their reward and benefit offerings through the lens of ESG and DE&I, with an eye toward their current and future talent needs. 

In partnership with Buck

Buck is a global, integrated HR consulting, benefits administration & technology services provider.

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