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Green HR: Sustainability and Business Management Strategies in Companies

In the past few years, with the increasing awareness of sustainability and the widespread adoption of corporate social responsibility initiatives, many companies worldwide have started embracing environmentally friendly practices. However, to be a sustainable and environmentally friendly company, it is not enough to just have policies that do not harm the environment in the production processes. It is crucial that all aspects of the company, including the HR department, operate with this awareness. This is where the concept of "Green HR", which can be defined as environmentally friendly business management, comes into play. While we mostly encounter examples of Green HR practices in foreign companies, this concept has also been implemented in some areas in Turkey. In this article, we will discuss the application areas and benefits of Green HR, as well as highlight some companies' Green HR practices.

What is Green HR?

Green HR (Green Human Resources) is a term that has gained prominence in the business world with the increasing importance of environmental and social sustainability issues in recent years.

Green HR is an approach that aims to develop and implement human resource management practices while considering environmental and social sustainability goals.

As companies realize the need to change their human resource policies to achieve sustainability goals, this concept has become more integrated into our lives. Green HR is a management approach that enables companies to consider not only employee performance evaluations but also their environmental and social responsibilities when determining their business strategies. According to this approach, environmental and social sustainability policies should be treated as an integral part of business strategies.

In this approach, companies focus not only on profit-making but also on issues such as sustainable use of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, and fulfilling social responsibilities.

In this context, Green HR can be defined as "environmentally friendly business management". Companies that adopt environmentally friendly and sustainable policies also aim to ensure that their employees act in line with these principles.

Benefits of Green HR

Green HR practices not only help companies achieve their sustainability goals but also contribute to higher levels of employee satisfaction and job fulfillment.

Implementing an environmentally friendly human resource policy can strengthen the employer brand and help businesses create a culture that enables them to achieve their sustainability objectives.

Companies that fulfill their environmental and social responsibilities gain a more respected position in society. Additionally, Green HR practices can promote efficient use of resources such as energy, water, and waste, leading to reduced operational costs. Furthermore, Green HR practices enhance employee motivation and improve internal communication and teamwork.

Green HR practices not only benefit the environment but also provide advantages for businesses. This is why the concept of Green HR is receiving growing attention and being implemented in the business world today. Green HR not only enables companies to fulfill their environmental and social responsibilities but also helps reduce business costs and gain a competitive advantage. Green HR practices also enhance employee well-being and improve internal communication and teamwork.

The History of Green HR

The concept of Green HR emerged in the 1980s and gained popularity in the 1990s with the development of human resource management practices to address environmental and social sustainability. After World War II, rapid industrialization led to resource depletion and increased environmental pollution. This raised the importance of environmental sustainability and prompted companies in the business world to take responsibility in this regard. As a result, companies embracing sustainability policies began to consider factors such as social benefits and environmental sustainability when determining their business strategies and started instilling this perspective in their employees. Within the scope of Green HR, human resource management practices such as recruitment, training and development, performance evaluation, and reward systems started being designed with consideration for environmental and social factors.

Green HR in Turkey, like in many other parts of the world, has gained attention in recent years due to increasing environmental issues and the growing importance of social responsibility. However, this concept has not yet been fully embraced and widespread in Turkey.

In Turkey, companies generally take steps to comply with environmental and social responsibilities imposed by legal regulations when it comes to Green HR. There is a need to raise more awareness about environmental and social responsibilities and to educate companies accordingly to promote the adoption of Green HR practices in Turkey.

How to Implement Green HR?

Green HR practices can be applied in various areas, from the selection of candidates considering environmental and social values during the recruitment process to employee training. These practices generally aim to involve employees in contributing to the environmental and social responsibilities of the company. Strategies in this context should be designed to actively engage employees and promote awareness and action.

Some examples of Green HR practices include providing training to employees to raise awareness about environmental issues, promoting waste reduction and recycling, implementing measures for energy and water conservation, and managing a sustainable supply chain. The following examples can be included in Green HR practices:

Environmental Impact Analysis: Companies can conduct an environmental impact analysis to determine and reduce the environmental impact of their operations and practices. Based on the results of this analysis, a path can be outlined for Green HR practices aimed at minimizing harm.

Setting Green HR Strategy: Green HR strategies encompass the changes a company will make to achieve its environmental and social responsibility goals and, if applicable, minimize existing damages. These strategies include human resources practices such as recruitment, training, and employee well-being.

Green HR in the Recruitment Process: Companies can apply Green HR strategies during the recruitment process by preferring candidates with environmental and social responsibility awareness. Interviews can include questions related to these topics. Additionally, digital methods that align with environmental consciousness can be preferred over paper-based practices, reducing waste, through the use of digital technologies in the recruitment process.

Training and Development: Companies can organize training and development programs to increase employees' environmental awareness and sustainability knowledge. By providing training on environmentally friendly practices and organizing awareness-raising campaigns, employees can be informed about these topics. This can lead to employees exhibiting more environmentally friendly behaviors both in the workplace and in their personal lives.

Employee Well-being and Eco-Friendly Practices: Companies can implement various initiatives to enhance employee well-being and promote eco-friendly practices. These initiatives can include recycling programs, energy efficiency measures, and eco-friendly transportation options. Companies can reduce energy consumption by adopting technological solutions that promote energy efficiency. Additionally, eco-friendly alternatives can be chosen for lighting and heating systems used in offices. Implementing recycling practices can also help reduce waste. Making these practices a part of the workplace culture can be beneficial in fostering employee participation and establishing an environmentally friendly company. Companies can reduce travel needs by adopting telecommunication technologies. For example, implementing remote work systems is an eco-friendly approach that can also result in cost savings for the company.

Performance Evaluation and Reporting: Companies can establish criteria to assess the effectiveness of Green HR strategies and report on their sustainability performance. These evaluations can also be used to assess individual employees' sustainability performance. The resulting reports can help track the company's effectiveness in environmental and social matters.

Some Companies' Green HR Practices

Many companies are achieving their sustainability goals through Green HR practices. For example, Patagonia is one of the leading companies in sustainability. The company designs its human resources policies in an eco-friendly manner to achieve sustainability goals. Practices have been implemented to encourage employees to commute by bicycle and increase the use of renewable energy, contributing to sustainability goals. The company focuses on developing products that avoid harming the environment and conserve natural resources. Additionally, the company provides environmental awareness training to its employees. Unilever is another company that has developed Green HR practices to incorporate environmental and social sustainability into its management processes. The company considers environmental and social factors in supply chain management and encourages its employees to contribute to sustainability goals. Google, as another example, operates using renewable energy sources as part of its green energy program launched in 2007. Furthermore, the company designs its data centers and offices to increase energy efficiency. Garanti BBVA, as one of the companies in Turkey that places great importance on sustainability, is a pioneer in the financial sector in terms of environmental and social responsibility with its established principles of sustainable living. It has also adopted WWF's green office standards and appointed "Sustainability Representatives" in all branches to reduce resource consumption and address the climate crisis. Anadolu Efes has also become the first company in its sector to be recognized as a green office. The company follows waste management and recycling policies such as discontinuing the use of single-use plastics, reducing paper consumption, and achieving toner savings in its offices.

The adoption of Green HR practices is a significant step toward a sustainable business world. As keİKen Consultancy, we value environmental and social sustainability and shape our working principles accordingly. We believe in the positive impact that the widespread adoption of Green HR practices in Turkey can have on our planet. If you wish to determine Green HR strategies for your company, develop a roadmap, or seek support in this regard, please feel free to contact us.


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