Global warming and climate change is changing the world as we know it. And no one is responsible for this but us. At this stage it is not only the job of corporate companies or government authorities to take action to contain the carbon emissions responsible for climate change, but individual action and commitment is as important, if not more.
The world of today cannot afford individual ignorance towards climate change anymore. Amid this, the corporates have a major responsibility towards the world – the responsibility to ensure and encourage their employees into responsible behaviour towards the planet. Two companies stand out at this time – one for taking punitive action against an employee who showed an ignorant behaviour and another one for rewarding the employees for taking positive action. Let us look at both these companies.
HSBC Suspends a Senior Executive in the UK Over his Ignorant and Irresponsible Comments on Climate Change
After accusing central bankers and other authorities of misrepresenting the financial effects of climate change, a top executive at the HSBC financial services corporation in the United Kingdom has reportedly been suspended. According to the BBC, Stuart Kirk, a senior officer in the bank’s responsible investing arm, has been suspended pending an investigation into a presentation he gave at an event last week. Kirk is claimed to have quipped during the occasion, “There’s always some nut job telling me about the end of the world.”
Kirk’s responsibilities, according to sources, include analysing the impact of investments on environmental, social, and governance issues. After giving a presentation titled “Why investors should not worry about climate risk” at a conference on May 17, HSBC came under pressure to remove Kirk. In his speech, he mocked the prospect of major floods, stating that he had to waste his time worrying about something that might happen 20 or 30 years from now. Kirk stated during his presentation at the FT Moral Money Summit that climate change is not a financial threat to which the world should be concerned.
“Unsubstantiated, shrill, partisan, self-serving, apocalyptic warnings are always wrong. Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages and that’s a really nice place,” Kirk further added.
Later on May 21, Noel Quinn, the bank’s group chief executive, stated that he “did not agree with Kirk’s views.” “They are inconsistent with HSBC’s strategy and do not reflect the views of the senior leadership of HSBC or HSBC Asset Management,” Quinn said, as per BBC.
Meanwhile, Nuno Matos, HSBC’s chief executive of wealth and personal banking, reiterated Quinn’s sentiments, saying that the company’s journey to net-zero is critical. According to a recent study, the risks of breaching a critical global warming limit have dramatically increased. The World Meteorological Organization’s leading scientists have indicated that the world has a fifty-fifty risk of exceeding the important climatic barrier of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next five years.
VFS Global links leadership performance appraisals to sustainability goals
VFS Global, the world’s largest outsourcing and technology services specialist for governments and diplomatic missions worldwide, said that the performances of senior management for 2022 will be linked to sustainability targets set for that period. This comes as a defining move as part of the organisation’s long-term sustainability strategy with a focus on Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) key performance indicators (KPIs) rolled out in 2021.
According to the strategy, the company has identified five pillars – Contributing to Sustainable Economic Growth, Delivering Good Governance, Nurturing our Colleagues, Protecting our Environment and Supporting our Communities. Each of these pillars are carefully selected and aligned to the organisation’s business strategy, the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals, as well as national priorities. They also include a considerable focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Employee Empowerment and Reduction of GHG Emissions, which are a part of the Management by Objective (MBOs) for the company’s senior executives.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion – signifies our commitment to creating a culture of belonging and equal opportunity by embracing diversity across the organisation at all levels, recognising diverse talents and encouraging a mindset to adopt this culture. The company which already enjoys a very healthy women to men ratio of 58:42 across its employee base is working exceeding 28% representation of women in leadership in the next years.
Employee Engagement – The organisation believes that strong employee engagement and satisfaction are crucial for corporate success. Striving for an overall employee engagement score of at least 67% – against an industry average of 58%* – will be a key driver of its people management strategy.
Reduction of GHG Emissions – Through measures for energy conservation, purchase of renewable energy, and offsetting initiatives, VFS Global takes reasonable steps to reduce its carbon footprint and contribute to the global efforts of tackling climate change. One of the key metrics identified is to achieve a reduction in CO2 emissions per employee through the transition of 52% of the electricity consumption to renewable energy.
“We want to ensure that our ESG commitments are supported by measurable actions which are consistently reviewed and improved upon. By including sustainability targets in Executive MBOs, we want our leaders to lead the change in mindsets. It aligns with our overarching goal of being a responsible global leader contributing to sustainable value creation for all our stakeholders,” said Zubin Karkaria, Founder and Chief Executive Officer VFS Global.