Tackling climate change at work is not a job for managers, it’s a job for everyone

Everyone has to act to tackle climate change

We believe that everyone in an organisation needs to be pulling in the same direction to reach climate and sustainability goals. Environmental improvements can’t be delivered effectively in a top down way, by leaders simply handing out instructions. Nor can they be achieved if the issue is kept within silos – with climate change discussions restricted to corporate and social responsibility teams.

Everyone must understand the need for action, and everyone must help make that action happen. But why do we think this? Here are three reasons.

1. We’re all responsible for climate change

Pretty much everything we do has some impact on the environment, especially when it comes to climate change.

According to the Committee on Climate Change, a government body set up to advise ministers, 62% of the emissions cuts needed to reach Net Zero will require some kind of change to our lifestyle choices. Only 38% of cuts to reach net zero will be down to new technologies or fuels alone.

This means it won’t be enough to come up with technical solutions. If we’re serious about stopping global warming, we need everyone to have climate change in mind when they’re making decisions in their lives.

It’s the same within organisations. The overall carbon footprint of a company is shaped by the decisions made by individual employees every day – from how much electricity they use, to what they throw away, to how they get to work. Bringing this footprint down to zero, therefore, requires the buy-in of everyone.

2. You can move further, faster

If you bring everyone on board in the fight against climate change you can move further, faster.

When all employees understand the challenge of climate change, you build an organisation-wide mandate for change. In other words, if you tell the whole company, from the CEO to the mailperson, what the problem is, they’ll all want to do something about it. This makes it easier to set ambitious targets and policies to cut emissions. This in turn creates a new culture and behaviours which fuel demand for even more ambitious emissions cuts.

On the other hand, if that mandate for change isn’t there (because people don’t understand the issue), an ambitious strategy will be harder to roll-out, execute and sustain in the long-term.

3. The overall performance of an organisation improves

Teaching employees about climate change and sustainability improves an organisation’s performance beyond sustainability.

Research has consistently shown that when employees feel their organisation cares about the environment, they have higher job satisfaction, they’re more motivated, they take more pride in their employer and they’re less likely to leave. An obvious way to show employees that you care about sustainability is to teach them about it.

A study published in the Journal of Business Ethics concluded that “by providing employees with the environmental impacts of different activities, managers can signal greater support for sustainable behaviours. The result could be a more empowered and satisfied workforce.”

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