Sustainability has become an important aspect for the world, given the challenges it faces, and businesses, across the spectrum, are also taking cognisance.
In an interaction with People Matters, Mathieu Zone, the Vice President of Human Resources and Communication, Bostik, the adhesives solutions segment of the Arkema Group, discusses how the sustainability sector has evolved on the ‘future of work’ front, driven by a global eco-wakening, challenges faced by the sector in recruiting, retaining, and developing talent, and trends that shape the future of work in sustainability.
Zone previously led talent development as Human Resources Director for Asia-Pacific (save China) at parent company Arkema, a global leader in specialty materials. He had joined Arkema 10 years ago, and held various positions within it in France, before being posted to Asia.
What trends will shape the future of work in the sustainability space?
Sustainability demands holistic views from the cradle to the grave on all corporate activities. In other words, employees with broad knowledge and open minds that are able to assess sustainability from upstream, through the corporate, to downstream. Capability to engage suppliers and customers alike will be highly sought after.
Within these perimeters, all ESG parameters could have an impact on the business viability. Corporates will have high demands for talent with specialist knowledge in domains such as regulatory, financial, and scientific standards governing the sphere of sustainability.
Lastly, there is a new generation of employees who are conscious citizens and are looking for meaning, empowerment and fulfillment at their workplace. They would like to be assured that their jobs are making an impact for the greater social good, along with their own personal welfare. What this means - there is a need to communicate how the sustainability space is evolving, and provide opportunities for people to embark on a truly exciting journey of change.
Considering the above, communication skills with all stakeholders, both external and internal, could significantly affect the success of any organisation. Ability to assimilate the different information and knowledge into concise and impactful communication would warrant a bright career.
What challenges do companies operating in the sustainability space face in recruiting, retaining, and developing talent? What are the challenges and opportunities in up-skilling and re-skilling?
There are many facets when it comes to hiring in the sustainability space, and this can be a little complex for fresh talent or someone new to the sector. With increasing competition for talent, there is a need to explore new strategies to overcome challenges in talent recruitment.
Companies need to be clear and concise about what they do, their mission, and bring the right leaders that are fully focused on championing sustainability in front of fresh talent. It’s about showing the fresh talent how you are making a difference in day to day lives for them to aspire and want to work with you.
When it comes to developing existing talent, it is more than just upskilling by providing training. The motivation needs to come from wanting to transform and grow employees by equipping them with knowledge, skills and experience that are not only most valuable for their current roles but beneficial for their careers in the long run.
Today, people have strong opinions and expectations on companies. For example, increasingly, we are seeing that employees and potential employees are wanting to work for companies that embrace diversity and inclusion and value team contributions. It includes all dimensions of diversity within a workplace, particularly in terms of leadership. And that’s exactly what we are striving for at Arkema, by adding ‘Inclusion’ as a new value within the company.
Lastly, because the sustainability space is so broad, talent may often find it challenging to find their niche. We all have a part in making efforts to come forward and support education programmes, that at graduate levels, educate young talent about the various options available and how they can discover what suits them.
Whether it is understanding new technologies or helping people have a better understanding of what sustainability really means, as organisational leaders we will need to lay the foundation and prepare ourselves for the changing world of work.
How has Arkema incorporated learning/skilling into its organisational strategy for future-proofing the business?
At Arkema, we constantly strive to identify existing jobs and opportunities that can support the development of our talents. That said, it is important for employees to see the value in developing their skills and aptitudes. It is in part our responsibility to educate and inform them about the different facets of working in a company where sustainability is at the heart of our business.
Professional training and upskilling concerns all employees regardless of job function, responsibility, or age.
Every employee has the access to lifelong learning during their career at Arkema. MyLearning, Arkema’s new digital learning platform, was launched globally in October for all employees.
Through the platform, employees can take charge of their own learning process and have access to a wide range of learning resources, from soft skills to hard skills.
What methods and approaches are effective in today's work environment? How Arkema is encouraging young talent and shaping careers?
At Arkema, we value a culture of open and constructive dialogue. We believe in teamwork and a strong culture that encourages cooperation and collaboration across the organisation.
Workplace transparency is an inherent part of our culture, and we actively maintain communications with our employees on the company’s business performance, successes, and challenges as part of our efforts to build meaningful workplace culture.
We also ensure that leaders foster a two-way dialogue through various channels. Such initiatives will become even more crucial in maintaining regular and transparent communications as we adapt to changing scenarios.
At Arkema, we also recognise that mentorship programmes are powerful in encouraging a culture of continuous learning and grooming future leaders. In Singapore, one-on-one mentoring programmes are offered to potential future leaders where they are assigned to a suitable mentor from a different business unit. Through the programme, potential future leaders are able to acquire new skills and be equipped for new roles with larger responsibilities.