There’s a strong link between a company’s ESG goals and programs and its ability to attract, hire and retain top talent.

Just a few years ago, stakeholders focused most of their attention on the “E” — the environmental aspect of ESG. And while their focus on environmental goals hasn’t diminished, they’re giving increasing attention to the “S” — the social aspect of ESG. For all of us in HR, the “S” is indispensable to our efforts to make our companies an employer of choice.

What is social?

Broadly speaking, social reflects how a company treats its employees. How are relations between company leaders and the employees they manage? What are working conditions? Is safety a priority? Are diversity and inclusion priorities? Does the company support the communities where its employees live and work? Does the company support employees’ physical and mental health?

Because job candidates tend to research and evaluate an employer’s social initiatives and accomplishments, your company’s social reputation will affect your ability to attract the employees who will be integral to your company’s success. How can you be sure candidates’ will find an accurate portrayal of your company’s social profile?

The ESG report

The ESG report is a presentation of a company’s environmental, social and governance goals and achievements and it can be an HR practitioner’s best friend.

The ESG report is a superb place to present your company’s social programs, goals and successes in a way most likely to get the attention of job candidates.

My own company, GXO, recently celebrated its first anniversary as a standalone company, and this past April we released our inaugural ESG report.

In it, we describe our culture and values not as “just words on paper,” but as things we live on every day. We go on to list our core values — to be safe, be inclusive, make an impact, change the game and deliver results — because they are the foundation of our culture. And although we did not have this in mind when developing our core values, those core values are closely aligned not just with the common definition of social, but also with the practices that can make a company an employer of choice.

“The ESG report is a superb place to present your company’s social programs, goals and successes in a way most likely to get the attention of job candidates”

First, be safe. Candidates want to work for a company where they can feel safe and to be safe. They want to know that their employer puts safety above all other concerns because when they are safe, they will be able to thrive — to be more productive and more engaged.

Next, be inclusive. Candidates are attracted to companies that value individuals — their talents, identities, backgrounds, and experiences.

Third, make an impact. Candidates are demanding more from their work than they were even just a generation ago. Work now must have a purpose, and a mission, and making an impact means contributing to positive change for fellow employees, partners, and the planet.

Fourth, change the game. This is an appeal to candidates’ ambitions to lead, to create, to revolutionize — to think of bold, original solutions to tough challenges.

And finally, deliver results. Candidates can see a company whose employees are laser-focused on delivering the best results — finding ways to increase efficiency, speed and overall performance, no matter what their job is.

These five core values describe expectations and opportunities for employees, but the ESG report can also describe the company’s commitment to helping employees thrive.

At my company, we place great emphasis on retention, and to succeed in this area, we commit to providing encouragement and opportunities for employees to develop their skills, to learn new ones, and thoughtfully plan their career progression.

We also commit to fostering employee satisfaction through our culture, our health and wellness programs, our compensation and benefits and our respect not just for workers’ rights, but also for their ability to make themselves and the company better.

Making social your recruiting advantage

We’re all dealing with the fallout from COVID 19 and other disruptions in the labour market, meaning the already difficult job of recruiting and retaining top talent is even more difficult.

As HR professionals, even though we have many tools to give ourselves an advantage, we can’t afford to overlook the advantage we can get from an enthusiastic presentation of our company’s social goals and successes, and the ESG report is a great place to make that presentation