Embracing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) visions and values is essential for corporate growth and success. However, numerous obstacles remain in place in the eyes of many employees, experts say.

Women in the Workplace

Sustainable working cultures produce many major benefits for business, Clockwork research finds, but challenges facing female and junior-level employees threaten to hamper profits and employee retention.

When developing the report, “The Real ROI of a Sustainable Work Culture,” the views of over 1,000 full-time knowledge workers in the US were taken to learn more about how culture impacts employee wellbeing and the overall health of a business.

According to the data, there is a concerning disparity in the perceptions of different employees depending on their gender and role within the organisation.

Gender Gap

Female employees were more than twice as likely as men to say that their work culture was very unsustainable (9% of women, compared to only 4% of men). Overall, more than 1 in 5 women said they believe that their work culture is unsustainable. Additionally, nearly a quarter of women without children, who tend to be younger and earlier in their careers, felt this way - more than any others.

Working mothers, who have been forced to juggle their careers with seemingly unending childcare disruptions over the past two years of the pandemic, have also been notably challenged. Despite these issues, they were clear about what it would take to improve the sustainability of their workplaces.

Half of those polled said that better benefits or compensation should be a top priority, followed by more opportunities for growth (31%), better communication from management (29%) and more flexibility in when or where they work (27%).

Leadership gap

There is also a major perception gap between senior leaders and the rest of the organisation. A mere 5% of senior leaders said they feel that their workplace culture is unsustainable, compared to more than 1 in 5 individual contributors, 19% of junior managers and 11% of middle managers. This indicates that many companies may be slow to improve as out-of-touch executives remain unaware of what the majority of their workforce is experiencing.

The ROI of a sustainable culture

Leaders have good reason to prioritise the closing of these gaps, as the data shows that an unsustainable workplace culture could have severe consequences when it comes to business performance.

A large majority of workers (70%) felt that their workplace culture impacted their company’s ability to grow, indicating that these issues could have a direct impact on profits. Further, 71% of respondents reported that their workplace is sustainable feel that this positive culture improves their levels of engagement.

Those employees that said that they work in unsustainable cultures were found to be more than nine times as likely to say that they may move to another employer in the next year – a potentially major factor influencing retention as “The Great Resignation” plays out. 

Critically, well over half of respondents (64%) said that their workplace culture impacts their company’s ability to innovate. 

Anna Dearmon Kornick, Head of Community at Clockwise, said:

“We firmly believe that the future of work is sustainable. Unfortunately, our data proves that this sustainability is far too unevenly distributed. 

“Actively investing in building a strong, inclusive and empathetic culture is now an absolute business imperative. In order to stay competitive in today’s tight talent market, business leaders and managers need to champion work/life balance while accounting for each team member’s individual time and flexible working preferences. Otherwise, they risk getting left behind,” she added. 

ESG World Forum

Part of the Digital Trust Europe Series

ESG World Forum is a two-day, in-person event taking place as part of the Digital Trust Europe series. 2021 was widely considered “the year of ESG investing.” Given the importance society has placed on ESG issues following COP26, we are likely to see this growth trend continue throughout 2022.

ESG World Forum will bring together a range of leading ESG experts and executive speakers from a range of industries as every major company is considering ESG strategies. 


ESG World Forum