FTSE 100 net zero goal to become vital to talent attraction

With 82% of FTSE 100 companies now aiming to meet net zero carbon emissions by 2050, some experts say environmental credentials will set employers apart in candidates’ eyes.

Since November 2021’s COP26 climate summit, 22 FTSE companies have pledged to reduce their emissions to net zero by 2050, bringing the total to 82 out of the UK’s 100 largest companies, according to research by law firm Boodle Hatfield.

On average these 82 companies aim to be net zero, including ‘Scope Three’ emissions, by 2044 ahead of the national target of 2050.

The pledge to reduce Scope Three emissions means that these companies will have to achieve carbon neutrality across their entire value chain including suppliers and customers’ use of their products.

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According to Kirsty Adams, chief people and  culture officer at recruitment company Resource Solutions, such meaningful pledges are already hugely important to potential recruits, and will become more so in future.

She told HR magazine: “For Gen Z and millennials in particular, it’s a critical consideration when applying for a vacancy, and the pandemic has also pushed many [other] workers to re-evaluate their priorities.

“A purpose-led employee value proposition might set companies apart for the time being, but it won’t be long before environmental credentials, along with other ESG markers, are critical for businesses to attract and retain the best talent.”

Full emissions are now reported by 71 FTSE 100 companies, accepting responsibility for three billion tons of CO2e (tons of carbon dioxide equivalent) every year, according to Boodle Hatfield’s research. 

Dividing the UK’s total emissions equally, the average Brit is responsible for 6.3 tons of CO2e each year.

Coventry Building Society has introduced environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals into its core purpose.

The bank's head of talent Andrew Bailey said this had helped attract and retain talent as candidates made changes in their lives post-pandemic.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: "HR plays a key role in both developing and channelling the skills to make organisations net zero-ready, and delivering targets by embedding an environmentally friendly culture and offering staff benefits to become more sustainable.

"Our ambition is to be fully net zero by 2040, a decade ahead of the UK government 2050 plan and we’re the first bank or building society to have signed The Climate Pledge."

Cutting down commuting time with hybrid working, offering electric options in the company car scheme, and a cycle to work schemes have all helped reduce emissions, he said.

Bailey added: "We are also working to become a B Corp organisation [committing to high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability] ensuring we are transparent with all of our sustainability reporting.”