ESG Workplace Training Takes Center Stage at BOFA And Other Large Corporations
Companies that operate with an eye on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) impacts not only improve the world – they also improve workforce relationships with employees who put a high value on ESG. Research shows that top employers, as measured by employee satisfaction and the ability to attract talent, have “significantly higher ESG scores than their peers,” according to a report from Marsh McClellan.
ESG principles are fundamental to millennial and Gen Z workers, who will make up nearly three-quarters of the global workforce by the end of this decade, Marsh McClellan noted. Many of these workers desire training in ESG workforce practices – and large corporations are taking note.
Photo Courtesy Bank of America
One of those corporations, Bank of America, is doing its part by putting money into workforce development programs involving renewable energy. In April, the Charlotte-based banking giant announced a renewed partnership with GRID Alternatives, the nation’s largest nonprofit installer of renewable energy.
As part of the deal, Bank of America renewed its $300,000 investment in one of GRID’s workforce development programs, the SolarCorps Fellowship Program. The money will support GRID’s 37 SolarCorps Fellows by providing “hands-on experience, mentorship, professional development, and increased knowledge” about renewable energy careers, according to an April 26 press release.
Photo Courtesy GRID Alternatives
“Demand for solar energy continues to grow, and that demand is driving the need for more solar industry workers,” Alex Liftman, Bank of America’s Global Environmental Executive, said in a statement.
“We are at a moment in time when we can create access to clean energy and clean energy jobs in underrepresented communities like never before. That’s why we are pleased to support SolarCorps and the broader mission of GRID Alternatives, which are helping to meet that demand and creating healthy communities and economic mobility in the process.”
GRID is a 501(c)(3) certified nonprofit based in Oakland, California, with eight affiliate offices serving all of California, Colorado, Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware. According to its website, the organization “develops and implements renewable energy projects that serve economic and environmental justice communities.” Its work includes creating and installing solar projects that serve low-income households and communities.
Photo Courtesy GRID Alternatives
These projects have taken on added importance since last year’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which aims to boost efforts to battle climate change and increase the nation’s energy security. One of the IRA’s goals is to create a fully decarbonized electricity system by 2035. The solar workforce will need to grow from about 250,000 workers in 2021 to as many as 1.5 million by 2035.
The Bank of America-GRID partnership represents one way of reaching those workforce goals. It’s also a growing trend among companies to develop workplace programs aimed at ESG training, upskilling, and creating a more equitable playing field.
- Bain announced a postgraduate-level ESG training program for all of its consultants in partnership with universities worldwide, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Imperial College London, HEC Paris, and Melbourne Business School.
- Deloitte launched a global learning program that aims to increase the sustainability and climate knowledge/skills of its 415,000 employees.
- PwC has provided ESG training to about 100,000 employees and launched an ESG Center of Excellence in Singapore.
Photo Courtesy Deloitte
Similarly, an April 2022 report from the MIT Global Opportunity Initiative (GOI) spotlighted five major employers investing in programs to upskill and reskill their workforces: Google, Marriott International, McDonald’s, Verizon, and Walmart. Some programs offer in-house training initiatives, while others help workers pay for higher education. Two are focused on ESG:
- Google supports nonprofits Social Finance, Merit America, and Year Up to help upskill more than 20,000 U.S. workers and create a “more equitable and inclusive job market,” according to MIT GOI. These initiatives are part of Google’s Grow with Google program, which provides training, resources, and tools to enhance job skills.
- McDonald’s offers the Hispanic American Commitment to Education Resources (HACER) national scholarship program and support programs for students enrolled at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.