Bridgend College has sustainability as a central organising principle, and have a department covering Health, Sustainability, and Wellbeing with a Health, Safety and Sustainable Development Manager. This department covers functions that often sit within HR teams and Estates/Sustainability teams in other institutions such as corporate health issues and estates and infrastructure projects. Bridgend College also has a separate HR department, which works closely with Health, Safety and Sustainability on a wide range of issues such as stress, policy development, fitness and wellbeing in the workplace.
Whole Institutional Approach
The college restructured its management style to be more “joined up,” distributing responsibility for institutional issues across all departments, after consulting staff on preferred working practices. The result is that sustainability, usually the responsibility of a few individuals or one department, is considered at all levels of the institution and is reflected in all job descriptions. Sustainability is also an important factor taken into consideration by senior management when looking at business risks. The senior management team’s language changed after the restructure, and now ask questions about the environmental and social impacts of measures – normally the responsibility of Sustainability teams to bring to the table.
Bridgend College considers sustainability as a unique selling point of the institution, which makes the college stand out in comparison to its local competitors. Its Health, Wellbeing, Safety and Natural World Policy Statement states the college is committed to making sustainable development the central organising principle against which decisions and policies are made.
Sustainable development has now been written into staff job descriptions at the institution at all levels (since September 2017). At the moment, this is phrased as an understanding of sustainability, what it means, and how the employee can bring this to the college – for senior managers this is essential criteria, and desirable for business support staff. It is expected that all members of staff have a basic understanding of sustainability issues. This has been achieved due to the joined-up management system and due to the overlap between Sustainability and HR functions: sustainability is the responsibility of every member of staff under the management structure.
Sustainability is factored into the recruitment process for staff at the interview stage, and new members of staff must undergo a sustainability induction when they start their job. Starting this year, every member of staff will have to undergo a training course on the business case for sustainability, encouraging them to take ownership of the issue. There is a hope to include sustainability for wellbeing into job descriptions, and to make current sustainability criteria in job descriptions more stringent and precise in the near future.
We know that sustainable development is all about dealing with different priorities and demands but also that this includes doing things within budgetary constraints; it is therefore vital that we remain agile so that we can respond to all challenges. A priority for Bridgend College is to be a catalyst for economic regeneration. It is right that everyone should have rewarding and secure jobs and a decent standard of living that allows them to care for their families in a safe and inclusive environment. But we know that there are other kinds of wealth we possess that give people a good quality of life; those in our relationships with our friends, family, and local and global communities but also in our shared natural environment which ultimately supports all life on earth.