Why Strong ESG Messaging Is Vital To Engaging Your Employees

Silka Patel, Leidos UK, on why strong ESG messaging is vital to engaging employees

Silka Patel, Social Value Manager at Leidos UK, joined our Co-Founder, Jo Hand, at our Chief Greenie session to share how she uses her social value role to take action on the climate.

Silka has been championing social value at Leidos UK, a Fortune 500 company for the last 4 years. Silka is the voice for change at Leidos UK and with the Giki programme, helping engage employees to build sustainable behaviours and take steps to change their everyday, to live more sustainably. Being an environmental champion in any business can face challenges, but Silka is the type of person who seems to relish in the opportunity.

Silka shared with our Chief Greenie community the strategies she’s putting in place to help deliver better social values, explain why strong ESG messaging has been vital when engaging her colleagues in sustainability, and build a network of eco-conscious employees.

You mentioned companies needing strong ESG messaging that’s clear and definable, how does the Giki programme give you this and what do you track?

More and more companies are looking to build a stronger ESG capability and messaging. There has been a huge rise in employees caring about the environment and wanting to drive change internally at the companies they work. It’s no longer something companies needs to push, it’s far more grassroots now and employees are asking what we’re doing as an organisation to support being more sustainable.

It’s been a loud and clear message especially in the last two years and with the younger generations coming in, they are looking at you before interview and want to know what sustainable practices you have in place. Based on these goals, they’re choosing whether to work with you or not. You need a good strategy to attract a good pipeline of candidates.

When you have a strong position on ESG, it enables you to rethink how you do business. Your clients, your colleagues, your potential customers want to see what you’re working on, that you have evidence for it and if you do it well, you win future business.

The Giki programme is really unique as it’s not just about educating employees, which is important and half the battle, but we can actually quantify it and give metrics to our potential clients, shareholders, board members and back to our teams. The dashboard shows us that we can walk the talk.

We want to show our staff how they can contribute towards the business achieving the net zero target, and here’s what you need to do to help. At a minimum, you need to be signed up for Giki. We ask our teams to look into local partnerships, commuter travel, environmental days, beach/litter-picking clean ups, volunteering. It’s about doing something to support the environment, and yes there’s a cost implication but on the flip side, is it better to engage your employees on this or lose contracts because you aren’t doing enough to meet your targets.

You have a great structure for getting new team members on board to the Giki programme, what steps did you put in place to achieve this?

Each month I get a new hire report and I send them an email about Leidos’ employee network groups and our ESG goals that explains where we are against our strategy, links to content and a link to sign up to Giki.

We’ve seen a steady increase of people coming into the company and engaging with Giki, they aren’t just stumbling across it, we’re directing them early on and creating that engagement.

Not only your team, but we also know you’ve built a great network of green champions at Leidos who help you champion the mission. What’s your strategy for building out that team of passionate environmental thinkers?

We wanted to build a team that could help us deliver on our ESG goals and hold us accountable. We recently launched the Leidos Green Team, which anyone at Leidos can volunteer to be part of. They meet monthly to come up with initiatives in their local area as well as looking at what else we can do with partnerships, team activities and community involvement.

Additionally, each month we look at our Giki leader board to identify the people taking the most steps. Our Chief Greenies are gifted with items from our Leidos brand store, which is anything from portable chargers made of bamboo, recycled laptop bags, reusable water bottles. There’s nothing like a prize to keep people motivated and we do all that we can to ensure these are sustainable items.

Speaking of rewards and prizes, how do you keep them sustainable?

It’s certainly something that fits well with my social value role. I’m always pushing corporate to see how we can do things differently and ask the question – is this item truly sustainable? There might be some items that all employees receive, but for me in the UK, I don’t want something that’s been shipped over from the US.

I want to point out the small and subtle changes that we can make to help reduce the carbon footprint and save us money on the shipping costs too.

If you are interested in building your own network of Chief Greenies and want to engage your team on sustainability, get in touch.