Sustainable leadership at Planet Ark
Author: Rebecca Gilling
At Planet Ark we know that being a leader in sustainability means more than a focus on one’s environmental footprint – important as that is. A central tenet of sustainable leadership must also be that the organisation values its people and seeks also to contribute to the wellbeing of society at large.
And while an organisation’s responsibility to the work health and safety of employees is required by law, this must mean more than avoiding slip, trip and fall hazards and ensuring staff follow the rules in the WHS handbook. State WHS laws also require that employers ensure the psychological health of their people where ‘reasonably practicable’.
Nonetheless, research conducted by TNS and beyondblue in 2014 found that 92% of workers surveyed thought that workplace mental health was important but only 52% thought that theirs was a mentally healthy workplace.
Apart from the legalities, investing in the health and wellbeing of your employees is both ethical and practical. A large body of research points to the benefits, for example, of including natural elements in the workspace like plants and wooden furniture, fixtures and fittings, to mimic the effects of time spent in nature. The results are seen in lower staff turnover, fewer sick days and a more engaged and creative workforce.
Providing flexible working arrangements, including working-from-home, keeping family friendly hours, and involving all staff in important decision-making are other ways in which we try to provide a working environment that cares for people in aspects of their lives beyond the workplace.
Most recently we have acquired a licence for the Waking Up app for all staff to use. The app provides a series of short meditations guided by neuroscientist, philosopher and best-selling author Sam Harris. Rather than acting merely as an ‘executive stress-ball’, the Waking Up series of meditations and the accompanying lessons aim to help us develop a deepening understanding of ourselves and our relationship with the rest of the world. Many of our staff, including the author, have already reported significant benefits from this daily practice.
Author: Rebecca GillingAfter 30 years as an actor, Rebecca joined Planet Ark as our public spokesperson and Audio/Visual Projects Manager in 2002. She shares her passion for the environment, society and organisational change for sustainability with the team at Planet Ark. Being great with people and passionate about what she does makes Rebecca ideal for her role as Deputy CEO working alongside Paul Klymenko.
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