Skip to main content
Home » Sustainability » Why social inclusion is a business imperative

Why social inclusion is a business imperative


Moira Horgan

Head of Marketing, Business in the Community, Ireland

How Irish businesses are working together to take steps towards social sustainability through creating an inclusive workforce.

According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, 70% of Irish respondents agreed with the statement: “A company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the economic and social conditions in the communities where it operates”.

Cross sector representation

This is a rallying cry from the Irish public on their expectations of how business can impact society. Indeed, that is why Business in the Community Ireland founded The Leaders’ Group on Sustainability back in 2016.It is a coalition of Ireland’s leading organisations that are striving to improve the sustainability of the Irish business sector through sharing best practice and creating new ways of doing business. 

The group is represented by CEOs of Ireland’s top companies from sectors including energy, telecoms, technology, finance, transport, professional services, pharma, retail and food. 

One of the first outputs from the group was a Low Carbon Pledge and the second output is The Inclusive Employer, a groundbreaking guide on how to create inclusive workplaces  and reduce social inequality in Ireland.

The barriers to employment 

Employment offers the single biggest opportunity for vulnerable individuals to move out of a cycle of poverty and become active participants in society.  In a report published by the the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) in 2018, five groups were identified as facing the greatest barriers to employment and as most vulnerable to social exclusion. These groups include: jobless households, lone parents, homeless or affected by housing exclusion, those with disabilities and ethnic minorities. 

Practical next steps for employers 

The Inclusive Employer blueprint spells out what practical steps employers can take to reach into these families and communities and help transform their lives. This is a clarion call for some employers who, up to now, have not fully realised the benefits of inclusive recruitment. It also provides step by step guides to business and industry who understand the long-term value of being inclusive employers but who have never had the tools to implement real change. 

Some top tips from the blueprint include:

  • Set hiring targets for those vulnerable to social exclusion and be ambitious
  • Rewrite job descriptions to be more inclusive
  • Train all staff on unconscious bias
  • Ask your supply chain about their diversity and inclusion and reward suppliers who demonstrate a commitment to D&I
  • Engage with outreach programmes targeted at education and employment. 

The need for leadership at the top

In a time of full employment, hiring and retaining talent from as many diverse areas as possible is now a key business opportunity as well as, quite simply, being the right thing to do.

Next article