Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations have taken centre stage for businesses worldwide and Australian agribusinesses are increasingly recognising ESG as an opportunity.

Australian agricultural land managers are responsible for maintaining 58% of Australian landmass and collectively, agribusinesses in Australia are increasingly setting ambitious ESG targets to ensure and achieve sustainable long-term growth.

With increasing pressure to act on ESG standards from retailers, customers, shareholders and investors, both local and global, this will see agribusinesses seeking key employers in the management of environmental and social impacts across the agri supply chain.

A recent Deloitte survey found that protecting the environment remains a top priority for Gen Zs and millennials and they are willing to turn down jobs and assignments which don’t align with their values.

The study also reveals that societal and environmental impact, along with a diverse and inclusive culture continue to be critical issues in terms of retention, and those that are satisfied that their employer creates this environment are more likely to want to stay in a role for more than five years.

ESG covers a wide range of areas, from environmentally focused issues such as energy use, to social themes revolving around how an organisation treats its people and governance aspects such as Board appointments and corporate reporting, making it difficult for companies to know where to focus their efforts.

The following are some tangible steps agribusinesses can take that will appeal to the current and future workforce and attract top talent:

1. Promote your green credentials to staff and job applicants
A study by IBM in 2021 reported that, of those surveyed, 71% of employees and job seekers say that environmentally sustainable companies are more attractive employers. In today’s dynamic job market, the younger generation is seeking more than just a job. They want social proof and reassurance that the business they choose to join is authentic and aligned with their values.

2. Focus on your approach to diversity and promote what you are doing in this area
The Australian Government promotes diversity as good business sense, quoting 75% of Australian workers supporting or strongly supporting diversity and inclusion in their own workplace. Authenticity is a key value for the younger generation. They seek genuine experiences and a connection to their work. Demonstrating diversity and inclusivity will resonate with young people in particular, and help foster a sense of purpose within the workplace, as well as help attract candidates who are driven by a greater purpose.

3. Look at sustainable working practices that aren’t only family friendly, but also work-life balance friendly
Flexibility is becoming increasingly important for Australian agribusinesses and they are beginning to recognise it as a key enabler of gender equality. Attracting and retaining diverse talent is crucial to future-proofing the workplace and the Australian economy more broadly and making workplaces more flexible and responsive to the needs of employees is key in achieving this.

It’s critical that the Australian agriculture sector can communicate performance across all sustainability elements ranging from environment, social and animal welfare, to economics and governance. This is what supply chain companies, financial institutions, investors and employees are demanding.

By prioritising authenticity and transparency, as well as promoting ESG practices, agribusinesses can solidify an image as a responsible, forward-thinking employer which is vital in attracting top talent.