I’ve been reflecting on my role in climate change efforts. Years ago, I started making lifestyle changes to reduce my carbon footprint – trading my gas car for an electric one, buying sustainable brands and minimizing plastic and waste. But I realized how small and insignificant my efforts were and felt helpless to make an impact.
Then in the summer of 2020, I saw a social justice movement in the U.S. in the form of Black Lives Matter that galvanized not just activists but also average U.S. citizens. I leaned into opportunities at work to learn more about the experiences of my Black colleagues and formed a team to activate allies to understand racism better, enhance our colleague experience and engage in our communities.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) at companies across the U.S. was a sudden top priority, and companies were taking real and significant steps to advance racial equity. Employees and stakeholders were demanding action and companies were responding.
Inspired by the response, I began to appreciate the influence employees yield when energized and engaged, and I recognized another opportunity: Could we, as employees (and citizens), also get organizations to pay attention to the world’s climate crisis? Could we get them to care enough to make strides to be part of the solution?
Businesses can harness the power of their employees to solve the enormous challenges they face from climate change. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it’s also just good business. In a competitive talent market, we know that many employees seek organizations with a purpose beyond improving the bottom line. In light of the pandemic and social justice movement, people are taking stock of what’s important to them.
Studies show that employees want to work for an organization that resolves to be part of the solution for a better tomorrow:
Leaders can create a culture where employees are critical to the solution. In doing so, employees will find meaning, purpose and connection in their work.
Whatever programs you offer, communicate broadly and make participation easy. Above all, be authentic and transparent. Share your carbon footprint, your goals and your progress.
The reality is that the world is nowhere near achieving the UN targets of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or less. Scientists have been sending warnings about the challenge for decades, but society hasn’t listened.
People want action from their governments and companies. So it’s up to employers to inspire action inside the workforce and communities, as many employers did during the Black Lives Matter movement.
Employers have a unique opportunity to harness the power of their employee base to achieve their climate objectives and stand out as a leader in this fight against climate change.