But very quickly I realized that I wanted to do more than being a “responsible consumer”, I wanted to put in everything it takes, because as Obama said
Since the beginning of my journey, I have met a lot of people that would like to do the same. And it’s at work that we spend most of our daily time and energy.
But how can we act on climate change when our jobs are disconnected from sustainability and positive impact?
Despite this apparent hurdle, I believe that everyone can do something about climate change at their own scale, their own pace, people just don’t know HOW yet. No need to be an expert to get started or have it 100% figure it out at the beginning. As with everything new, people will figure it out along the way.
Take the example of The Ocean Cleanup: the urgency to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (5x the size of France!) mobilized specialists, companies and institutions to build a totally new cleanup system, inspired by and for nature. Its founder (Boyan Slat was in high school when ideated his clean up system!) and the team did not have it figured out at the beginning and even now that is has been launched, it still needed testing in the Pacific to see if it actually worked!
Positive impact from within
What if companies would create and nurture their Corporate Sustainability and Social Responsibility Strategies “bottom-up”, including input from employees, so the people that are confronted to sensible issues on a daily basis?
The process would ideally need to be steered by experts, but the ideation and implementation needs to happen “at the base”, involving as many employees as possible.
Why?Because today’s societal and environmental issues need new ideas and solutions from many, not only from a few selected experts!
When I helped one of my clients on their first sustainability roadmap, it was the work and input from a whole team (not only mine, the consultant, and that of the CEO) that resulted in an action plan for every participant. While some employees might be more motivated than others to work on sustainability issues in their daily jobs, giving actually the opportunity to participate in the process, is already engaging.
If you came up with an idea and implement it, usually you are more motivated to follow through as if it was imposed on you. Having the freedom to do so, also boosts engagement.
Last but not least, doing something positive for society and the environment, adds purpose to people’s job.
What’s in there for business?
According to HBR, “purpose is not just philanthropy; it is a source of competitive advantage”.
Giving employees the opportunity to act on climate change and participate in their companies’ sustainability journey adds meaning and purpose to their jobs, enhancing engagement, performance and brand image.
“Purpose at Work” the largest global study on the role of purpose in the workforce conducted in 2016 by LinkedIn and Imperative suggests that connecting employees to purpose brings measurable business impact: the majority of companies with a clearly articulated and understood purpose experienced growth of +10%.
Unilever’s “sustainable living brands”, delivered 70 % of its turnover growth in 2017 and grew 46 percent faster than the rest of the business.
Engagement, attraction and retention
The same study says that 73% of employees are satisfied with their work when purpose is tied to their motivations for working and 39% are more likely to stay at their company for more than 3 years.
Being able to attract and retain talented employees is key for the long term success of businesses. Especially when it comes to the younger workforce for whom purpose is key: according to the 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey, “millennials want leaders to more aggressively commit to making a tangible impact on the world.”
Corporate and brand image
Purpose at Work says that purpose-driven companies get more engagement on LinkedIn: 3.5x more company followers per employee and 117% more LinkedIn Company Page views per employee.
How to act on climate change at work?
By discovering what’s already existing and what’s possible, employees start to see opportunities and ideas on actions they could take. And – boosted by the input of their peers (collective intelligence) – ideas get improved and start taking shape! All it takes is curiosity and most of all, willingness to take action.
I crave for a new narrative around Climate Change, of optimism and creativity, because in my opinion we have the opportunity of a lifetimeto co-create a more inclusive future that remains livable for our kids and grand-kids and where businesses are able show what they are capable of by leading the change to positive impact!