Connecting ESG to the employee experience: From vision to reality 

Peggy Wu, Vice-President, AbbVie, discusses what employers can do to make employees relate to their organisation’s ESG framework.
By: | August 4, 2023

“When employees have a purpose, their productivity and motivation are boosted, and they can feel connected to larger social issues.” –  Peggy Wu, Vice-President, AbbVie

Sustainability is today not just a catchword anymore. It has become a critical topic of concern for leaders across all sectors of global operations when formulating business strategies. In recent years, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) have formed the foundation of company operations at every level. It highlights how a business demonstrates and measures the ways it achieves the goal and external expectations of sustainability by creating a positive societal impact. 

In Asia’s healthcare landscape, businesses have pivoted to this focus by taking greater care of their employees and communities. This growing commitment to ESG practices mirrors similar trends in other industries, driven by changing mindsets and evolving workforce demographics.

How ESG influences employee engagement and patient-centricity 

At AbbVie, we believe purposeful work drives meaningful change, and I believe employee engagement is at the forefront of this change. When employees have a purpose, their productivity and motivation are boosted, and they can feel connected to larger social issues. In fact, studies suggest that engaged employees are more willing to take on additional responsibilities in their jobs and are more committed to meeting organisational goals.

AbbVie’s ESG framework is built around three foundational pillars that align with its enterprise goals and principles, including discovering and delivering innovative medicines, innovating with integrity and intention, and unlocking the full potential of diverse and talented teams. We utilise this framework to nurture a diverse and inclusive culture that encourages our employees to solve complex health challenges and create a remarkable impact in people’s lives. The wide range of knowledge, experience, perspectives, and capabilities that our employees bring is critical to our innovation and short and long-term success.

An effective way to encourage employee engagement is through volunteer opportunities. For instance, during our Week of Possibilities volunteering programmes in Asia last year, our employees around the region played a hands-on role in teaming up with non-profit partners to give back to the environment and local communities, benefitting close to 2,300 people from the voluntary services. Some of the activities also contributed to environmental conservation efforts, such as waste collection and mangrove seed planting. Many employees expressed their passion for taking part in activities that served the purpose of revitalising and contributing to the community. 

In the healthcare industry, this engagement can trickle down to our patients. We aim to engage employees to see, feel, and live the patient experience to better understand their unmet needs by listening to them in various ways and by providing patient immersion experiences. This helps our people drive innovation to make a difference. 

ESG for the future 

The ESG landscape is constantly changing, and employees demand greater transparency. Companies should consider listening to and monitoring the stakeholder landscape and evolving demands as these factors have a great influence in creating and defining a strategic roadmap and prioritising ESG actions and initiatives. Creating value and impact through ESG starts with developing a tangible and practical plan that evolves with changing times and trends.

In Asia, our vision towards 2025 is to foster an A+ Team that creates and surpasses our legacy by advancing pipeline and talents. We achieve this through attracting, developing, and supporting our key talents. Our leaders in Asia play an essential role in bringing out the best in their teams by providing growth opportunities based on personalised development plans, including successor planning for sustainability. 

READ MORE: Putting sustainability into action: CHROs driving ESG in the workplace

To realise our A+ vision, we provide various development and cultural programmes at global and regional levels or developed according to country-specific needs. These include LDP (Learn. Develop. Perform.), talent development programmes, short-term assignments, mentoring including reverse mentoring, coaching, Power Up @ AbbVie for women leadership, employee wellbeing management, and many other programmes. 

With the increasing societal expectations and public awareness of social and environmental issues, employees are more critical of their companies’ efforts than ever before. Embedding ESG into businesses and the ways of working contribute to developing an engaging employee culture. This will drive a long-term, sustainable business that makes a genuine and lasting impact on patients, employees, customers, and the community.