Louise O’Driscoll is a Sustainability Communications Specialist working on campaigns and programmes that contribute towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She has worked across the UK and globally as a Communications Consultant and Videographer.
Having studied photography from National Diploma to MA level, Louise has used her skills in creative storytelling to champion social and environmental sustainability within non-profits and in children’s rights organisations. She has worked for The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, The Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children and now specialises in sustainability communications at Canon EMEA.
Collaboration and adaptability are two principles needed to build a better world of work. Organisations, Partners and individuals must work together to make an impact and tackle the issues we face. Real solutions can only happen when people with different experiences come together, and then beyond that, universal standards need to support and provide governance for change.
I see a valuable place of work as a considerate space, inclusive of cultures and committed to diversity and equal opportunities. Organisations should be adaptable to meet the needs of their employees and they should be in touch with societal issues.
Having a welcoming culture and recognising the world outside of work will automatically make organisations stay relevant to employees and stakeholders.
At Canon, our sustainability commitments are underpinned by our company philosophy of Kyosei: living and working together for the common good. Kyosei informs everything we do, from our business practice, work ethic and our sustainability commitments. We recognise what’s happening in the world around us and during Covid-19, we joined a coalition of organisations making intellectual property freely available for use in tackling Covid-19. Canon Medical Systems donated equipment including an X-ray CT diagnostic system to the City of Wuhan to help fight against the virus, as well as supporting many hospitals with temporary mobile solutions.
We know the importance of social and environmental sustainability initiatives. We have a heritage of Circular sustainability having launched the first wide scale laser cartridge recycling programme in 1990. The programme has collected used toner cartridges in 23 countries, with a volume of about 435,000 tons at the end of 2020. In addition, we also look to remanufacture hardware where possible and make new products from used hardware.
On the social side we have a partnership with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Action campaign team through our Canon Young People Programme. The programme has reached over 5000 participants, working with over 50 charity partners, including Plan International and Wild Shots Outreach, across Europe, Middle East and Africa to equip young people in schools and communities with the skills, tools and platforms they need to share their stories with the world and create new opportunities both for themselves and others in their communities.
We recognise employee needs for flexible working and commitment to recognising the importance of Diversity and Inclusion. We’ve adapted a hybrid working model between office and home locations, along with our highly competitive Family Friendly policy, recognising the importance of balancing the personal and professional needs of our employees. We are committed to improving the gender split in our management population and we will continue to encourage close collaboration with our Employee Representative and Diversity and Inclusion Focus groups, as well as learning from external best practice.
With so many businesses offering competitive work packages, employees will continue to look to work in places where they truly feel valued and connected to the ethos of the organisation.
In my experience, I have found my goals shifting from working with children's rights focused organisations, to now prioritising working where I think I can add value to sustainability programmes I think are powerful, whether that’s within a small or huge company.
Although there are no certain timelines for influxes of digital in the workspace, we know that technology is constantly evolving and changing the way that we work. In 2016 The United Nations responded to access to digital when the UN General Assembly declared access to the internet as a human right and in doing so highlighted the internet as a key point of access to equity in our world. The need for digital will put increasing demand on fair access to the internet and technology, especially as there is a growing importance of virtual environments such as the metaverse driving us further into virtual reality.
Over the next few years, business leaders will need to be able to draw lines and make strong decisions about the role of technology in business operations and prioritise their employees' rights and values. We’ll naturally see increased discussion around the negative and positive impacts of technology both inside and outside of the workplace, as well as increased concern around environmental impact caused through extracting resources.
The suddenness of Covid-19 meant we had to find alternatives to face-to-face collaboration as events turned from live to hybrid and plans changed due to varying restrictions across the world. Digital solutions to working were pushed further than they have been before and became critical to maintaining business operations. Companies that weren’t set up for hybrid working and couldn’t switch to digital quickly suffered as a result. Now that employees are familiar with hybrid working models, we will see an even greater need for businesses of all sizes to be able to tap into smart working opportunities. Hopefully one of the benefits of remote working will be an increase in companies planning for diversity in workforces as physical location becomes less important for who can join a company.
For long standing companies, I think it’s important to strike the right balance with maintaining traditional ways of working and keeping up with increasing stakeholder demands around sustainability and technology.
To meet employee needs there has to be a balance in supporting post-Gen Z workers with digital skills and support and also keeping up with technology and accommodating and nurturing digital skills for the digital savvy Gen Z. I think companies that can get that right will see employee satisfaction.
One piece of advice I’d share with businesses that want to build a better world of work is to be inclusive in decision making and welcome change in order to stay relevant. Sustainability and technology demands don’t allow for us to sit back and wait for change to happen or to make excuses on why change isn’t happening yet. I often hear people talking about sustainability like it’s just another subject matter on the table. It isn’t going anywhere, and companies need to embed sustainability in their business strategy. This is the decisive decade for people and planet, and with that everyone has to unify to create solutions.
As the way we work continues to evolve and change, I think it’s important that high level leaders reach out to young creatives to invite different viewpoints into decision making. Through freelancing I’m connected with Dr Nabeel Goheer, Chief of AMEE at PATH. Nabeel is working to accelerate health equity so all people and communities can thrive. His acknowledgement on the need for digital transformation in business and improved methods of communication in longstanding businesses demonstrates a recognition of the need for collaboration and including young people in decision making around public and planetary health.
Reaching out to people in different age groups with different perspectives is something we don’t always see from senior leaders in business so I thought it was really positive when Nabeel reached out to me directly several years ago via LinkedIn to ask about my views on reaching young audiences around human rights issues. He is dedicated to widening the discussion on bridging barriers between organisations and young audiences. He believes Science, technology, innovation and digitalization (STID) combined with collective wisdom, local knowledge and behavioural approaches can bring better balance for improved health, healing and harmony.
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