The decisions and actions we as a society make significantly impact the planet we all share. To ensure a livable future for coming generations, sustainability has gained importance and is embraced by companies across various industries. Globally, sustainable behavior captures and creates value for individuals and companies while minimizing harm to the natural and social environment.
Sustainability in its various forms has been a driving element in past international student projects. connectUS aims to further explore and broaden the under- standing of what sustainability is. Therefore, our project will focus on the framework of ESG – Environmental Social Governance.
We believe that exploring diverse viewpoints, areas of expertise and operational strategies in Switzerland and North America can be beneficial for both organisations and students. Our ambition is to promote effective sustainability solutions and spread knowledge about the practical implementation of ESG in organisations.
Working towards being an environmentally conscious company is more important than ever considering the risks imposed by climate change and resource scarcity. To conserve our environment, we need to have sustainable practices in place to offset the existing damage and prevent further harm.
Sustainable production methods are essential to ensure that our planet continues to be habitable, especially as we face the issue of overconsumption. Enhancing the sustainable use of resources with circular economies makes a supply chain more resilient and productive. Therefore, by taking responsibility for our resource consumption, the environment can be protected. connectUS 2023 is interested in learning how businesses can reduce wasteful production and consumption and what impact individuals can have on this process. Through our project, we want to raise awareness by accentuating different measures being taken by companies in North America and Switzerland towards this goal.
In the modern world, excessive waste generation and emissions are negatively impacting our environment. Individual and corporate responsibility is not only gaining traction but becoming a defining measure of quality. A mindset change within companies towards offsetting emissions is inevitable to maintain competitiveness and retain existing employees and customers. Consequently, we seek to find methods how companies can reduce or remove emissions and industrial waste in a way that benefits their core operations and the environment.
As part of our society, companies have the responsibility to address pressing social issues. This is where social development becomes effective by removing barriers and enabling growth on a collective and individual level. Companies can contribute to social development by investing in local communities and applying inclusive hiring strategies. This is a key move, since society’s success relies on the well-being of its citizens.
Growing together and achieving common success requires forming synergies and broadening mindsets. More companies are recognizing that inclusive employment produces a positive social impact, while simultaneously fulfilling and strengthening their ability to develop and retain talent. Expanding our horizons and creating inclusive and diverse workplaces that welcome people from all backgrounds reduces inequalities. Companies can contribute to local socioeconomic development and the Global Sustainable Development Goals by implementing employment strategies to reach and integrate individuals. We aspire to learn from companies in North America and Switzerland that promote inclusive employment strategies and gain first-hand knowledge of how they improve the quality of their employee’s work life.
Empowering communities entails more than just being aware of social issues. It includes engagement through local initiatives and ownerships with a clear focus on social development. We aim to encourage organisations to consider the impact they have on their immediate social environment. The impact on all stakeholders should be prioritized over the competitive advantage that can be gained. By raising awareness of sustainable business practices and encouraging long-term critical thinking, both organisations and students are encouraged to explore and discover ways to benefit their communities.
Leadership is generally guided by a set of principles and objectives and communicating them to employees can be challenging. Hence, a code of conduct is an important building block of an organisation’s governance framework. Effective governance is facilitated by incorporating and clarifying the values that employees should uphold. Providing the workforce with sustainability awareness training contributes to an organisation’s integrity as a governing body.
Companies pledge to uphold certain values while addressing sustainability. However, these often end up being overlooked to the extent that short-term profits become more important than working with stakeholders who share the same values on sustainability. Nevertheless, we believe that those collaborations can create lasting values for companies, for example, integrity. It is necessary to establish transparency regarding an organisation’s conduct and actions to sustain high levels of confidence and trust. We aim to increase understanding of how values and strategies are established by management and their effects on a company’s integrity.
Providing employees with the information and skills to address stakeholders’ expectations has become essential for companies. A company that values its surroundings and the wellbeing of the planet must collaborate with both internal and external stakeholders. We want to highlight the different ways that employers encourage a sustainable work environment. By initiating discussions, we intend to identify effective strategies for companies to foster sustainable behavior among their employees.