Need for human capital to ensure sustainability

Wednesday, 26 June 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Looking at sustainability from a different viewpoint altogether, John Keells Holdings (JKH) Group Finance Director Ronnie Peiris stressed that the role of employees in sustainability should be taken into account. “My view is that what is good for the company is good for the planet. We need to keep the human element and the environment in mind. There is abundant negligence on sustainability and to some extent when I look around, I see that sustainability has become a fad,” said Peiris. He questioned whether the majority of the people who talk on the subject actually gave an absolute thought to sustainability or whether it was being done mechanically or just spoken about since it was an upcoming trend. Taking John Keells as an example, he said: “We are trying to have sustainable growth under a framework and if I was asked to pick a contributing factor to that sustainable growth, I would say it was the adoption of the pay for performance philosophy.” Stating that its introduction was rather a painful one for the management to deal with, he expressed that while looking at the current context, it was the right thing to do. While the company was aware that there was a need for sustainability, and had always practiced it in some form or another, he revealed that JKH got into it on an emphasised basis only seven years ago. “That is when we really brought sustainability into the DNA of the corporate culture,” Peiris noted. He opined that although it is common while on the subject of sustainability for people talk about water, air, waste, carbon footprint and other environmental matters, it is seldom that people talk about pay for performance or the human element to achieve sustainability. “Very rarely is the role of an employee in ensuring sustainable growth considered,” he added. “Unlike plant and equipment, which may have a weighted capacity, you can bring it from a low level activity to a higher level but it is limited in its capability. We need to understand that people in our organisation have unlimited capacity, the way that they work for you depends on how you treat them,” he asserted.