Sustainable workforce

Helping clients develop a strong fit-for-purpose workforce strategy and a supportive, inclusive and fair employee culture whilst responding to increasing stakeholder demands for transparency on sustainable workforce issues.

Alongside the responsibility imperative, net zero is an economic opportunity that drives growth. The challenges we face are complex and urgent, and greater pressure calls for a better approach to Sustainability be it environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. By combining human ingenuity and experience with technology and data, we create both commercial and societal value.

Aligning Sustainability and workforce strategies will be key in responding to new challenges: from net zero transformation to sustainability reporting. Our skills, powered by technology, enable you to make data-driven decisions, quickly, and deliver positive change you can prove. This is crucial as we’re reaching a tipping point: being too slow to act will cost organisations more than changing the way they operate.

We know employees are a key asset contributing to sustainable business and societal value. A strong fit-for-purpose workforce strategy and a supportive, inclusive and fair employee culture is essential to getting the most for your employees and for your business. We can help you both meet these needs as we support you to future-proof your organisation.

Net-zero transformation and the workforce

Businesses are trying to set realistic net zero targets and are having to change their strategies to ensure they can deliver on them - all whilst having to contend with a perfect storm of rapidly rising stakeholder awareness and expectations around Net Zero, new legislation coming into force globally, requiring increasingly detailed sustainability-related disclosures, and a global shortage of capability to address this completely new paradigm.

The challenges organisations face are complex and urgent, and greater pressure calls for a better approach. Connecting commerciality with responsibility is critical to business success - driving change and creating confidence and trust in the actions that follow. The shift to deliver a NZT strategy requires a significant cultural and mindset shift, reflective of a sustainable, environmentally and socially positive future.
We help organisations align all parties around the vision and strategy, creating lasting success and behaviour change to enable net zero goals and supporting the workforce transition through tailored change management. As part of your net-zero journey, there are many things to consider in relation to your workforce as you transform: leadership, culture, reward, fairness, skills and data will all play a key part in a successful decarbonisation journey.

What workforce issues do you need to consider as part of a net-zero journey and to support your broader Sustainability strategy?

Executive and employee reward and incentives

Companies are increasingly considering the use of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals within executive pay, linking incentive outcomes with the delivery of meaningful change in these areas. This helps to signal both internally and externally that companies are prioritising and taking Sustainability and ESG seriously.

Measures have historically focused on executives and are now being cascaded through the organisation to align the wider employee population with Sustainability and ESG strategy.

Learn more by checking out our in-depth thought leadership pieces:

Culture change strategy and transformation

Any change in agenda such as the drive towards sustainability will require an organisation’s workforce to think, work and behave differently. Culture change initiatives can embed transformation throughout the organisation and drive competitive advantages in the race to net-zero.

Inclusive leadership development and workforce upskilling

Authentic leadership is key to enhancing brand and value - do the leadership really care and are they driving the Sustainability and ESG agenda? Is advancement of your Sustainability and ESG strategy being held back because of leadership misalignment?

Top team effectiveness, board development, priority alignment and upskilling can help equip current and future leaders along with the wider workforce to drive the Sustainability and ESG agenda of your organisation.

Pay fairness

Employment regulations have continued to evolve over the past 10 years with increased focus from regulators to ensure that workers are paid correctly and fairly.

With increased competition for labour and board level focus on the Sustainability and ESG agenda, employers are focusing more on this area than ever before.

Especially as there are significant reputational risks where employers fail to meet these statutory requirements, together with financial penalties.

Pay fairness encompasses Holiday Pay, National Minimum Wage, Statutory Payments, Gender Pay and wider pay compliance risks.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Organisations that invest in diversity attract top talent, foster greater innovation, and have improved financial performance. But as diversity, equity and inclusion comes more under the spotlight, what does it take to deliver a strategy that meets the needs of your business and stakeholders and truly moves the dial on your Sustainability agenda.

Diversity, equity and inclusion needs to be a board level conversation. Building a robust diversity, equity and inclusion strategy informed by data, and including it in your risk and wider business management will enable your organisation to actively shape perceptions and gain a competitive advantage.


Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increased focus on the wellbeing agenda within organisations. The impact of ill health on productivity and performance, as well as a greater awareness of social responsibility, are also moving the topic towards the forefront of employers’ minds.

Understanding the whole spectrum of wellbeing offerings and what is right for your workforce and your business will ensure you remain market leading in the war for talent.

Read more about the shift from Total Reward to Total Wellness in our Global Hopes & Fears survey.

Technology & data

Data collection, analysis and assurance is one of the greatest Sustainability and ESG challenges. If your organisation is struggling with workforce related Sustainability data, there may also be deeper underlying struggles to come in respect of the broader data support required to comply with Sustainability and ESG reporting requirements.

We can harness the power of data, behavioural science, analytics and AI and help find workforce technology solutions to support you in the delivery of your Sustainability ambitions.

Green pension benefit design

When organisations are looking at Net Zero strategy they need to be thinking about their own company pension funds and where investments are made - few companies have joined the dots - it should be a key part of an organisation’s Sustainability and workforce strategy alignment process. For example, some defined benefit schemes can have seven times the carbon footprint of the company itself.

Taking a strategic approach is key. We can help you review and incorporate pensions into your wider Sustainability and ESG strategy to ensure that where you are putting your money follows your vision.

Sustainable transactions

There is no simple route to a valuable Sustainability strategy. It requires a change in mindset, where the entire organisation looks at talent and recruitment in a different way. This is why a transaction is an ideal launching pad. A deal – whether you are a buyer or seller – is a powerful catalyst for change. It is a moment of intense disruption, inevitably involving a change in organisational design and cultural upheaval. The perfect opportunity, in other words, to introduce a different way of thinking and introduce change that will bring real and lasting value.

Explore more in our recent thought leadership:

Sustainability reporting and the workforce

Meeting new Sustainability and ESG reporting regulations, creating value from this reporting and responding to stakeholder demands for increased transparency on sustainability issues is both a critical and challenging area for organisations.

New sustainability reporting requirements are increasingly requiring use of workforce related data. However, data collection, analysis and assurance is one of the greatest sustainable workforce challenges.

Efforts undertaken towards sustainability reporting goals can often uncover underlying workforce challenges which organisations need to address, such as not meeting targets, highlighting a large disparity in relation to peer organisations, revealing discrimination issues or highlighting cultural misalignment to Sustainability and ESG strategy.

Workforce reporting is complicated but underpins the success of any Sustainability strategy and goals. Early gap analysis specifically in relation to workforce reporting needs will enable early embedding of a workforce reporting strategy that knits well with the wider Sustainability reporting strategy and approach and can help prevent missed commitments and reputation damage.

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Contact us

Lesley Graham

Lesley Graham

UK Workforce Sustainability Lead, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7718 979926

Phillippa O’Connor

Phillippa O’Connor

ESG Lead for Tax, “S” of ESG Lead, National Reward & Employment Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7740 968597

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