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Employees as stakeholders, what would they say about the boss?

The sterile air of the HR office holds its breath as you close the door, leaving you and your employee in a private, performance-review bubble. But beyond the scripted goals and calibrated adjectives, a different conversation unfolds behind the scenes, whispered in hallways and hushed corners. What would your employees say about you, the boss, if the walls didn’t echo and your ears couldn’t betray their words? Would they paint a portrait of a leader who champions not just productivity, but purpose? Or would their whispers reveal a disconnect between your polished ESG pronouncements and the lived reality within your company’s walls?

Imagine the murmurings: perhaps some would whisper about your genuine commitment to environmental sustainability, how you replaced wasteful practices with eco-friendly alternatives, and how they feel empowered to contribute to a greener future. Others might praise your dedication to social responsibility, the diversity and inclusion initiatives that foster a sense of belonging, and how your company actively supports the local community. These are the whispers of admiration, where ESG translates into tangible actions that resonate with your team.

But not all whispers would be so harmonious. Dissonance might seep in when employees speak of greenwashing, of unfulfilled promises veiled in glossy brochures. They might murmur about long commutes in gas-guzzling vehicles while the sustainability report boasts carbon neutrality. Perhaps they’d whisper about unfair workloads spurred by ambitious environmental goals, or how their voices were unheard when proposing innovative social impact initiatives. These are the discordant notes, a call to action to bridge the gap between aspirations and reality.

Beyond praise or criticism, deeper concerns might emerge. Whispers of a disconnect between company values and employee experiences, of governance opaqueness hindering trust, and of a lack of accountability for those responsible for ESG shortcomings. These are the yearning melodies, the longing for genuine alignment between your ESG commitments and the everyday pulse of your organization.

So, what do we do with these whispers, these echoes of our leadership reflected back at us through the ESG lens? Do we dismiss them as inconvenient chatter, or do we lean in and listen? The choice is ours. We can remain comfortable in the echo chamber of our own intentions, or we can embrace the uncomfortable truths whispered in the corners.

To lead with genuine ESG integration, to inspire not just compliance but passion, we must:

  • Seek Authentic Feedback: Create safe spaces for employees to voice concerns about ESG implementation, fostering open dialogue that goes beyond tick-box surveys.
  • Embrace Transparency: Share not just successes, but challenges and missteps in your ESG journey, demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement.
  • Empower Action: Equip employees with the resources and authority to contribute to your ESG goals, making them agents of positive change within the company.
  • Prioritize Accountability: Hold yourself and your colleagues accountable for ESG commitments, ensuring every action aligns with your stated values.

Remember, whispered truths, when acknowledged and addressed, can become the soundtrack to a more impactful and authentic ESG journey. They can guide us towards becoming leaders who not only boast about ESG, but also inspire genuine loyalty and engagement through real-world action.

So, let’s turn the whispers into a chorus of progress. Let’s listen to the unsung songs of ESG in the workplace, and become leaders who not just talk the talk, but walk the walk, hand in hand with our employees.

Because ultimately, the measure of a leader in the ESG era is not found in the performance review document, but in the honest whispers that echo when the door closes tight.

Kenya ESG Awards
Kenya ESG Awards

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