Grabbing for green staff
While sustainability means different things to different organisations, there is a growing consensus among Hong Kong companies that sustainability strategies can help to develop human capital, enhance efficiency and strengthen competitiveness.
For companies in the engineering sector, the idea of sustainability is increasingly focusing on the design and maintenance of buildings where people live and work. This is being aided by government requirements to enhance the design standards of new buildings and “green building” assessments and certification.
“With emphasis being placed on energy-efficient buildings in Hong Kong, career options are being created for people with the relevant experience and know-how,” says Eagle Mo, managing director of Telemax Environmental and Energy Management.
“Energy improvement projects, new buildings and upgrade work will continue to drive the need for more professionals to provide assessment and certification,” she adds.
Mo says that her company – which specialises in building services, environmental protection and energy sustainability – is looking for qualified, self-motivated engineers and consultants to work on a variety of projects.
She adds that there is demand in the industry as a whole for engineers, electricians, green-building consultants, academic professionals, system designers, renewable-energy specialists and services consultants. In particular, there is a need for professionals with knowledge on specific Hong Kong initiatives such as the Building Environmental Assessment Method and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and the mainland’s Green Label Building Evaluation.
“Significant job satisfaction can be obtained by helping clients support a sustainable society by reducing their environmental impact,” she says.
Linda Ho Wai-ping, CEO of the non-profit Green Council, advocates company-wide involvement as a way to implement and develop sustainable strategies. “Progress can be made through increasing knowledge and experience gained and shared,” she says.
She suggests companies form a sustainability task force to share information from different departments. They can also establish annual objectives and put in place the means to monitor and assess performance against these objectives. These should be coordinated and reported monthly and annually.
Companies can showcase their sustainable endeavours and environmental achievements by entering the annual Hong Kong Green Awards, organised by the Green Council.
At Fuji Xerox Hong Kong, Debby Chan, director of global services business and chairman of corporate social responsibility, says sustainability is ingrained at all levels across the company, both internally and externally. For example, 14 years ago, the company implemented a zero-landfill target. By using recycling facilities in Australia, China, Japan and Thailand, 99.9 per cent of used equipment is now recycled.
In Hong Kong, Chan says the company goes to extensive efforts to foster a pro-family spirit, which is part of a corporate vision for actualising its “Good Company Concept”. “Employee engagement and well-being is extremely important. On the mainland, programmes have been put in place to look after employee welfare and social and recreational needs,” she says.
Recruitment firms report that companies seeking to hire, develop and retain top employees must pay more attention to implementing sustainability strategies to ensure their long-term competitiveness.
Eunice Ng, director at Avanza Consulting Pacific, says sustainability is an important issue for any company. Jobseekers are increasingly evaluating the sustainable strategies of potential employers, but a lot of companies are still sacrificing the concept in pursuit of short-term goals.
“There are companies that realise their workforce is critical to their long-term success, while others tend to be reactive instead of proactive,” she says.