Published on:

09 November 2023

Updated on:

09 November 2023

Read time:

7 minutes

Jo Jenkinson

Design Director

Jo Jenkinson, Design Director at Office Principles, recently attended an insightful roundtable discussion on integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into business strategy.

The event took place at the beautiful Foxhills resort set amidst 400 acres of Surrey countryside. It was arranged by Insider Media, and sponsored by accountancy and business advisory firms MHA and Baker Tilly.

The roundtable brought together business leaders across various industries to debate how sustainability and social responsibility can transform company culture and operations. There was robust discussion around embedding ESG principles into every business decision to create value and meet stakeholder expectations.

Jo Jenkinson shared key insights from the roundtable on how companies can start prioritising ESG in their workplace and culture.

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Engage employees at all levels

The first critical step is understanding what your employees care about when it comes to sustainability and social impact. Conducting comprehensive workplace engagement exercises provides valuable input on ESG initiatives that would resonate best with your staff. Surveying a diverse cross-section of employees gives voice to all backgrounds and levels within the organisation.

Regular town halls, focus groups, and anonymous surveys allow employees to share their perspectives, ideas, and concerns. This fosters greater trust and open communication across the company. When staff feel their voices are heard, they become more enthusiastic about embracing organisational changes that impact their day-to-day work. They gain a sense of shared purpose in shaping the company's ESG strategy.

Listen to all stakeholders, not just employees

Listen to all stakeholders, not just employees

While employees play a central role, it's crucial to gather input from other stakeholders like customers, investors, suppliers, sub-contractors, and the local community. Each has unique needs and expectations for how your company can improve its ESG performance.

For example, institutional investors are increasingly basing decisions on ESG reporting factors and looking for detailed disclosures. Suppliers want assurance that you are committed to ethical practices throughout your supply chain. Proactively engaging stakeholders builds the partnerships and social licence needed to implement a robust ESG strategy. Their buy-in helps maximise impact.

Embed sustainability into workplace design

Look for opportunities to "green" your office space and broader facilities through energy efficiency, renewable energy, healthy building materials, and smart technologies. Small office refurbishments can make a big difference, such as installing LED lighting, optimising heating and cooling, and purchasing renewable energy credits.

Bigger steps might include a larger office fit out to achieve sustainability certifications like BREEAM, WELL or Fitwel, which verify buildings meet high standards for lessening environmental impact and boosting occupant health. Office interior design choices like abundant natural light, vibrant colours, and biophilic accents boost mental wellbeing and creativity too.

Working toward net zero carbon for your operations is an important long-term goal. Seek help from sustainability experts to plan and finance major capital projects. They can model different scenarios to reduce energy usage and carbon footprint.

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Promote sustainable behaviours and reduce waste

From the break room to the board room, look for ways to embed sustainability into daily workplace operations and culture. Provide reusable cups, cutlery and dishes in kitchen areas to cut down on single-use plastics and food waste. Set printers to double-sided default and discourage unnecessary printing. Provide clearly labelled recycling bins at every workstation.

When old furniture and equipment need replacing, resell, donate or upcycle what is salvageable. This gives materials a second life rather than sending them to landfills. Develop deconstruction plans when renovating spaces to reuse building components elsewhere.

Encourage employees to adopt sustainability practices at home too, through incentives like discounted transit passes or resources on living greener.

Foster diversity, equity and inclusion

Spaces and policies that make all employees feel welcomed, valued and able to thrive are foundational to social sustainability. Ensure your workplace is accessible to those with disabilities. Create environments for neurodiverse individuals, meditation, lactation, and prayer to accommodate diverse needs.

Evaluate pay gaps across gender, race and other characteristics. Then develop action plans to address unequal compensation and advancement. Seek diversity in supplier and vendor selection.

Most importantly, leaders must consistently model inclusive values in their words and actions. Ongoing training at all levels keeps diversity, equity and inclusion top of mind.

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Plan ahead for tighter regulations

As concerns over climate change and social issues escalate, governments and industry groups are establishing tighter regulations and standards around areas like greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency and waste.

Proactively moving your company in line with existing and anticipated requirements future-proofs your operations. For example, improving your UK facilities to align with Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards reduces risk of penalties down the road. Adopting standardised sustainability reporting frameworks preferred by investors makes disclosures easier.

Earning sustainability certifications also signals your commitment to higher standards before they become mandatory. Given expectations around ESG performance will only grow, being an early mover gives your company an advantage.


The roundtable dialogue made clear that effectively embedding an ESG policy into business strategy, workplace culture and design is both an imperative and opportunity. Companies that take an authentic, thorough approach to environmental stewardship, social responsibility, governance and transparency will attract and retain talent, reduce operating costs, and build resilience to global challenges like climate change.

By making the ESG framework a core part of decision-making and operations, businesses can lead the transition to a more sustainable future.

If you're planning an office refurbishment or fit out, contact our team to start envisioning your ideal workspace. Our strategic approach enables us to deliver inspiring offices where your team can thrive. We handle all aspects from concept to handover, creating workplaces built around your people.

Meet the Author

With a passion for creating exciting and innovative designs, Jo’s is the imagination behind a rich and varied portfolio of inspirational environments, spanning commercial, retail and residential markets. Experienced in architectural design and design and build, she has worked in the office fit out industry for over ten years and has led the design on a number of multi-million pound projects.