This morning was well spent listening to Kathryn Cooper share her insight into how organisations can better integrate sustainability into their workforce. She highlighted that a common approach may be for green teams to gain endorsement from upper management, but this may not be fully effective. This is due to change being a difficult step to implement, and sustainability initiatives can make it even more difficult. A study on sustainability efforts showed that only 2% of them were successful while 81% of them were mediocre. This is the case due to the sustainability related actions being more of a side project or focus, as opposed to a main focus. In order for groups such as green teams to have better success rates, Kathryn outlined some best approaches to consider:
  1. Have Senior Management lead by example eg. sustainable commuting, attending green team meetings.
  2. Allocation in the budget – have a budget allocation for green team projects and sustainability focused projects.
  3. Integrate sustainability into policies – having it written in formal documents reflects the commitment the organisation has.
  4. Incentivise Formally or Informally – reward the green team/ sustainability champions either with bonuses or with recognition e.g. awards
  5. Embed it into Courses and Training – if your organisation offers training, integrate sustainability related principles into the training in order to continuously raise awareness and encourage participation.
Kathryn also highlighted that in order to get your employees or colleagues more involved, having the environment as the key focus may not always be the best approach. Everyone can be involved if there is a connection made between sustainability and a matter that is important to them e.g. health and safety, community, family issues. Linking employees’ priorities to the importance of sustainability is a means to close the gap on mediocre efforts. These are some thought provoking lessons that came out of the condensed workshop session this morning, with the idea that once an organisation ingrains sustainability into their foundation, it becomes easier to implement sustainability efforts. But if there is hesitation to join, the key is to find what employees are concerned about, and illustrate the connectivity between concerns. It’s also important to show the value of sustainability by instilling it in other forms – by showing recognition to green team champions, integrating it into policies and having leadership be committed to the cause.