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Sustainability in Workforce Mobility 10.16.2020 | Laura Levenson

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Sustainable practices go way beyond the environment and are certainly gaining momentum. Depending on who you ask, the “climate movement” can be attributed to Al Gore’s congressional hearings on the climate change over 30 years ago. By 2007 the Supreme Court ruled that dealing with greenhouse gas emissions was the federal government’s responsibility. And today, we talk about the Paris Agreement (ratified in 2016) and the Green New Deal (first proposed in 2012, updated in 2018) as major sustainability initiatives that take a front and center seat in the daily global news cycle.

Sustainability is hardly a new concept for our industry, and I am proud to be part of a panel on this topic at Worldwide ERC’s upcoming 2020 Global Workforce Symposium, where I will be presenting alongside representatives from one of our client companies, Hilton Hotels, and one of our service partners, Hilldrup.

When companies like Hilton demonstrate environmentally-conscious values and business goals (and hotels have been implementing energy savings measures for at least a decade), we are doubly proud to count them among our top clients. And when major moving service providers such as Hilldrup report on process improvements, cost savings, and environmental impacts, we see how our values align with our business partners.

What is sustainability in the global mobility context?
Working with Hilton and Hilldrup, I realized that defining sustainability is a multi-dimensional undertaking. Over the past several decades, we have seen and heard conversations about the environment, global warming and the dire need for a global response. The concept of sustainability has evolved so greatly over my own lifetime, from campaigns against littering to the formation of the EPA in 1970 to energy efficient appliances to every day recycling. Sustainability has grown into a global dialogue that encompasses far more than the environmental concepts and context.

Today, we use this term to describe everything from cost savings, to return on investment, to employee retention and succession planning. Most recently, the COVID19 pandemic has underscored the importance of corporate duty of care to employees and business continuity planning and implementation in times of crisis. And of course, there’s global climate change, how we respond, and how our responses will shape the destiny of planet earth and our species.

My fellow panelists and I chose to focus on sustainability in the context of business process and the environment and how our companies are striving to promote sustainable practices to improve our respective business models, protect the livelihood of our own employees, and to bolster and facilitate the ongoing success of our clients.

As both a service provider to the travel industry, and a user of relocation management services, Hilton recognizes their critical responsibility to protect the planet and preserve the beautiful destinations in which they operate. Equally, they respect and take seriously their critical role as consumers of energy to be a leader and role model of sustainable practices. Since 2009, they have used LightStay management system to measure, report and improve their environmental impact across their global portfolio of managed and franchised hotels. They are the first major hotel company to launch science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. They are also taking major steps to reduce waste across their portfolio, improve the use of water and implement sustainability initiatives in their supply chain.

Hilldrup, a leading agent of United Van Lines, for its part, recognizes the importance of implementing environmentally-conscious practices throughout their business model, and sees these practices as a win/win for their business as well as their clients’. Hilldrup maintains a young and fuel-efficient fleet that meets all voluntary equipment specifications, and they equip their trucks with GPS fleet technology to determine the fastest and most efficient route to reduce “empty vehicle mileage.” This cuts down on fuel and maintenance costs. Hilldrup also repurposes moving boxes to make them available to self-pack customers, and what can’t be reused is always recycled. In fact, last year Hilldrup recycled more than 700 tons of material, in aggregate.

And, like many of Weichert’s preferred partner van lines, unwanted non-perishable food can be donated to a local food bank through Hildrup’s partnership with Move For Hunger. Global programs for discarding and donating all types of unwanted items is another initiative embraced by Hilldrup and many of Weichert’s household goods providers.

We strive to be the leader in our industry by implementing practical and effective environmental initiatives across our organization. In all countries in which we operate, we comply with applicable environmental laws and regulations. Our focus is on minimizing waste and emissions, reusing and recycling, reducing the use of natural resources, and developing pollution reduction/prevention efforts in all our business activities.
Weichert's Commitment to Sustainability

While this post focuses mainly on the environmental aspect of sustainability, Weichert weaves the three pillars of sustainability — Economy, Society, and Governance (ESG) — throughout our business mission. We actively employ strategies to govern the company’s financial health, talent acquisition and development, succession planning and supply chain risk mitigation aspects of sustainability as well.

Across the three pillars of sustainability we are hearing about transformational goals, and I believe we will soon be creating mobility policies that incorporate sustainable practices to suit a wide variety of industries. Just as procurement officers hold Weichert accountable to provide reporting on Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) partner spend, we anticipate many more of our clients will start to require standardized reporting on their own ESG practices as well as the activities of those with whom they contract.

Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) is a non-profit organization that connects businesses and investors on the financial impacts of sustainability and financial impacts. The SASB Foundation envisions an investment universe where a shared understanding of companies’ sustainability performance enables investors to make informed decisions that drive improved sustainability outcomes and thereby lead to improved long-term value creation.

It’s not only the right thing to do, but before long, without a doubt, such practices will be mandated and we’ll be ready to help our clients with critical supporting information!

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Written by Laura Levenson

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Laura Levenson is a Practice Leader in Weichert Workforce Mobility’s Advisory Services group. She has worked in management capacities for workforce mobility and Big Four firms, and is well-versed in bringing clarity to the most pressing global talent deployment challenges. She brings over 25 years of experience to her role and is a frequent speaker on the mobility conference circuit.

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