AFBE 2016: Sustainability in Hiring

The Covocate team were recently invited to submit and present an academic paper at the 20th anniversary conference for the Asian Forum on Business Education (AFBE) 2016. The Forum has an extensive history of having hosted keynote speakers from some of the world’s best universities in locations throughout Asia, with this year’s momentous anniversary forum being hosted in Sarawak.

The overarching theme for this year’s conference was Green Business and Sustainability, topics that are frequently overlooked when it comes to hiring. But in our view, the people that make up our teams play a critical role in not just the economic sense, but also socially and environmentally.

The three pillars of sustainable business. Credit: www.thwink.org

Economically sustainable hiring is comparatively easy to assess as a product of maximising ROI (eg, hiring productive candidates) and minimising waste (improving inefficient processes and lessening employee turnover). But the social sustainability of hiring is also a very important topic for our societies moving forward given that we have collectively done such a poor job over time of building teams that reflect the diverse communities in which they operate. Traditional hiring mechanisms have struggled to adapt to these challenges as they frequently perpetuate systemic unconscious bias in the process. We must additionally consider social aspects such as socio-economic status and background when hiring sustainably: it is an ethical concern that a child brought up in a low-SES area is far less likely to achieve a degree, and therefore far less likely to join a top tier company with their first job. This constrains career trajectory over time and prevents natural social mobility.

Finally, hiring can also be measured for environmental sustainability due to its unparalleled ability to influence productivity in the workplace. Workers who are aligned and engaged with the values of their workplace are substantially more productive than those who are not, which means they produce substantially more than others even with the same resources. As a global society we should consider how we can optimise systemic efficiency by getting the right people in the right places to maximise not just company output, but that of the city, state, country and world.

Our paper was submitted as a partnership with the Business School at University of Western Australia who we thank for their ongoing support. Thank you to our hosts at the University of Technology Sarawak and to the executive organising team at AFBE. It is pleasing to see a wider awareness of the importance of sustainable hiring in driving real outcomes for society business and the global environment moving forward.

You can download our abstract here. Full copies of the paper are also available on request.