Communicating the Green Imperative within your firm

23 November 2021

Whose responsibility is it to curb greenhouse-gas emissions - governments’? Businesses’? Or billions of individual consumers through their daily actions?

BPCC's green blog:

COP26 – after the party, the fallout
Car fleets, driving to work and ESG
Communicating the Green Imperative within your firm
How green is your office?
The Green Canteen

Taken collectively, business has a huge role to play. Business should not wait to be regulated into action, but should take whatever steps are possible to reduce emissions and lower their carbon footprint. A change of behaviour is what the chief scientific advisors of the UK and Canada both called for at COP26. Britain’s Sir Patrick Vallance said that behavioural change was already starting to happen, but more was needed, while Canada’s chief scientific advisor, Mona Nemer, said there needs to be a “profound behavioural and cultural change in terms of our relation to the Earth”.

Who is to set off that change, making sure it happens in the long term? Presidents and ministers? Politicians?

But what about business leaders? Politicians can be avoided and ignored, but people go to work every day and interface with their managers – who can neither be avoided nor ignored, even if you’re all working from home! So how can business leaders effectively get the green message across in a way that’s compelling to the people they work with? The usual mix of stick and carrot – or more subtle means, the so-called ‘nudge’ approach?

Leadership by example is a good part of the solution. If you are personally serious about combating climate change, you will already have been implementing emission-saving behaviour into your personal habits, across your home life and work life. Looking for further ways to go deeper down the path to true sustainability.

Rather than having a ‘green evangelist’ to shoulder the responsibility, the entire corporate leadership structure should be on board with best environmental practice, believing in it – and living it.

The top-down example of a boardroom and C-suite that has abandoned big cars in favour of public transport and bicycles sends powerful signals throughout the workforce – the company’s leadership genuinely means it. HR directors who lay down a company’s people policy hold great influence. In many ways, clear and logical rules for environmentally friendly business are easier to adhere to than complex and contradictory ones. Rules and guidelines should be focused on outcomes, not on inputs and outputs. A corporate policy, however well-meant, that makes employees try to figure out how they can get round it, is a failed policy.

Any corporate leadership that visibly practices what it preaches will be taken more seriously than one which merely talks the talk.

“We care about our planet’s future.” Prove it. Prove in your everyday business leadership. By doing so, you will make it easier to implement more radical changes into corporate culture without any grumbles about hypocrisy. “Do what we say, not do as we do,” and the workforce digs in its heels and resists change. And it is change without which we cannot save our planet.

Day 1: BPCC’s green blog on COP 26 in Glasgow
Day 2: Methane emission pledge hailed as success on second day of COP26
Day 3: Coal and climate finance are the focus of the third day of COP26
Day 4: Youth activism flavours fourth day of COP26
Day 7: Barack Obama’s speech highlighted start of second week of COP26
Day 8: Gender equality – focus of eighth day of COP26 – overshadowed by new heat calculation
Day 10&11: China-US ‘breakthrough’ as final statement is hammered out
Summary: COP26 disappoints with the loss of strong commitment