Doing Well and Doing Good

How can HR help to develop sustainable leadership across the organisation? Some leaders see the SDGs as a compelling alternative growth model.

AHRMIO Webinar – Doing Well and Doing Good, 5/12/2019
Michael Jenkins with Melody Tay as guest speaker

At the Human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI), the conversations with senior leaders have often revolved around their quest to understand how they, as leaders in Asia, can successfully develop their business models and organisations in response to the call to align profitability and sustainability and, to do that at the pace and scale that will prepare them for the future.

How can HR help to develop sustainable leadership across the organisation?

Some leaders see the SDGs as a compelling alternative growth model.

HCLI’s research has been looking at how organisations drive sustainable business, what initiatives and human capital practices have been developed to support sustainable leadership, and how organisations’ approach to sustainable leadership can be different in various markets. HCLI included organizations that are publicly recognised as leaders in the area of sustainability, but also other organizations participated in the research.

When looking at words that are most emblematic for the sustainability agenda, there was a distinctive terminology used by leading and other organizations. The most commonly used terminology by leading organizations was ‘doing well and doing good’ and ‘purpose-led’.

When asked what factors influenced their organization’s focus on Doing Well and Doing Good, respondents indicated that the founding values of the organizations have a pervasive influence on their sustainability agenda.

In the presentation Michael focused on three different organizations from three different continents to make the research results more concrete. Leading companies adhere to four universal truths: the belief in doing well and doing good; a public commitment to targets and measurements, a relentless focus at all levels and dedicated resources to serving the sustainability agenda; leveraging others, realising that as an organization you may not be able to achieve your goals on your own.

Michael focused on four critical human capital practices that are central in developing the Doing Well and Doing Good agenda:

  • Talent Attraction: defining the hard and soft skills that are critical to success and updating the recruitment practices in line with this, promoting and enacting the sustainability agenda when recruiting talent
  • Talent Development: shifting mindsets and embedding new behaviours is the most powerful way to develop the capability to execute your Doing Well and Doing Good strategy
  • Performance Management: using performance management systems as a lever to focus leaders and the broader organisation on behaviours and actions that support efforts to do well and do good. Defining KPIs for managers to show how they have advanced on the sustainability agenda in their jobs and their teams
  • Communication: be relentless in driving awareness and understanding of your Doing Well and Doing Good agenda internally and externally

HR should play three roles in advancing the Doing Well and Doing Good agenda:

  1. Catalyst: helping to provoke significant change or action
  2. Change Agent: using skills and authority to lead others through change
  3. Partner: working with senior leaders to align business and HR strategies

When asked which human capital policy, process or practice change(s) they had put in place to better support Doing Well and Doing Good, the majority of the participating companies reported changes in Talent Attraction as well as in the KPIs, and very few of them had changes in rewards or succession processes.

Because of the HCLI’s location in Singapore, the research also focused on the question in how far Doing Well and Doing Good is different in an Asian context.

The focus is different. In Asia more work needs to be done to disaggregate philanthropy and sustainability. Regulation and reporting requirements are accelerating. Asia has been slower to act than e.g. Europe, but there is a greater use of technology and innovation. The notion of doing good is part of the DNA in Asia. The regional connectedness can be a problem, but is part of the solution as well. Although there is a strong focus on doing good in Asia, this is not always connected to doing well.

Public commitment as well as measurement is key. A careful reflection about who benefits is needed and partnering as well as learning from others is important to further the sustainability agenda. Prepare for a long journey.

During the conversation with Melody, she stressed that to be considered an attractive employer to Millennials, organisations must demonstrate that they are socially responsible. Millennials are looking for evidence that a company has a purpose that supports a sustainable and inclusive future. The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that people are shifting their trust to the relationships within their control, most notably their employers. Globally, 75% report Trust in My Employer, with the number one factor impacting Trust in My Employer being the societal impact that the organisation has. Open and honest communication of organizations is key to gaining trust.

For those interested in exploring the relationship with finance and sustainability, Michael suggested to check the research of Alex Edmans and Ioannis Ioannou of London Business School. Future leaders will have to know that both finance and sustainability go together. The idea that investors can do good grows!

To embark on our Doing Well and Doing Good journey, Michael suggested the following:

  • Develop a stronger sense of social purpose and of the ecosystem of players around the organization
  • Use innovation and technology to address sustainability challenges
  • A strong focus on the bottom-line provides the opportunity to reinvent the business models and to progress.

In their research, the HCLI asked organizational leaders: if there was one thing they could actually do, what would that be? The majority answered: keeping ahead of the game regarding sustainability.

Full report:
For an overview of actions HR can take toward the mission of Doing Well and Doing Good:


Share the Post:

Related Posts

Join our newsletter to stay updated

2024 AHRMIO Annual Conference

Join us at the AHRMIO Annual Conference 2024, where innovation ignites inspiration and transformation shapes the path to a brighter future in HR practices.

Experience more than just an event; embark on a transformative journey alongside brilliant minds, thought leaders, and passionate HR professionals shaping the future of work.

Let’s create impact together.

AHRMIO Annual Conference pages


Sign up to our newsletter

Be the first to know!

Get our latest news and updates delivered straight to your inbox!