On Wednesday, May 27th, we had our second Webinar Wednesday of the spring! Kathryn Cooper from the Sustainability Learning Centre returned to give our attendees knowledge on how to build an awesome sustainable team plan. If you want to get your colleagues engaged in more sustainable operations, read on to learn more!

COVID-19 Impact on Sustainability Force Field Analysis

COVID-19 has modified the way we live, work, and spend our money. We can think of the changes the current pandemic has brought on as Driving (Enabling) Forces and Restraining Forces

Driving Forces

  • Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) provides bridge financing to help companies support their climate goals
  • With the majority of employees working from home, many companies have met their climate goals for the year due to the reduction in emissions from commuting and powering buildings
  • With all of this change, employers realize that taking care of their employees both physically and mentally is the key to having increased morale
  • Looking forward to the future with optimism and the post-pandemic world

Restraining Forces

  • The “reuse” sector has declined during the pandemic because of health and safety concerns with reusing resources, which hasn’t been great for the environment (eg: increased use of plastic resources)
  • A lack of resources – employees are focused on building back after COVID-19 and rather than sustainability
  • Money can be tight for some companies as they navigate through the pandemic
  • Sustainability is not seen as core to a business at the moment
  • Uncertainty of the future can lead to a freeze on sustainability action as some businesses are finding it difficult to plan

So, what does COVID-19 mean for climate change? As mentioned before, with more people working remotely, 2.6 billion metric tons of carbon emissions have never been emitted because of our lifestyle changes. It only took weeks (not years) for some of the most polluted places around the world to have their smog cleared and emissions dropped. If you take a look at the graph below, you’ll see that the most recent measurement of carbon emissions trends down around the world. 

Graphic from: Bloomberg 

Prediction: Small Actions, Big Difference

When building your green team, it’s important to keep in mind that the smallest sustainable actions can make a big difference – but how?

Define Purpose: Where is your company’s growth likely to come from in the post-COVID-19 era and in the future? Ask yourself what new trends may emerge and how those trends will affect the demand for our products and the supply of new materials. What do you think your stakeholders want to see from your business?

Empower Stakeholders

Once you’ve defined your purpose and sustainability goals, you can motivate your stakeholders to help integrate your chosen goals into everyone’s daily work routines to ensure they don’t become disengaged.

Collaborate and Partner

Form broader industry collaborations to address complex problems. These collaborations, which can be joint ventures with competitors, and can help create the systemic changes that our planet and its people need. 

What to Stop, Start, and Accelerate

  1. Accelerate effective remote working
  2. Supply chains need to be optimized for sustainability to ensure resources are available for years to come
  3. Think about long-term sustainability instead of the short-term 
  4. Return and reimagine: companies should focus on recovering revenue, building operations, rethinking the organisation, and accelerating the adoption of digital solutions

Sustainability Plan & Engagement Roadmap

So, how do you build your sustainability plan and engage your colleagues? Well, your engagement roadmap can work in four phases:

  1. Foundation 1: Plan in a way that builds execution support, speed and effectiveness
  • Define a timeline to build a detailed execution plan, kickoff, checkpoints, and deliverable dates
  • Identify who should be part of the planning process
  • Build meetings and planning activities into the preparation period
  • Develop kickoff meeting material for execution partners, hold kickoff meetings and launch detailed planning processes
  • Use the high-level work plans in this roadmap as a starting point. Tailor them or craft your own detailed execution plan that addresses your company’s unique business, structure, and culture
  1. Foundation 2: Recruit key leaders who will influence “other passengers”
  • During the planning period, identify influential leaders in your organization who are willing to drive the sustainability program in the company
  • Assemble them into a “sustainability council” of senior executive champions from across the company
  • Work with them to generate broader executive support by identifying how the program can progress business goals
  • Deliver a quick win as soon as possible (ideally concurrent with the preparation period) that they can use to build support among their peers
  1. Foundation 3: Work within existing management structures to reach all employees
  • Identify groups of employees who will be difficult to reach with traditional business communication channels such as email and intranet. Define them as “segment” and “reach out”
  • Invite their leaders to assist in designing a structure to reach the segment, perhaps by identify leads within the existing chain of command
  • Build detailed execution plans that are specific to these structures
  • Define roles, responsibilities, and scorecards for implementing the program
  1. Embed sustainability into the employee lifecycle
  • Partner with your HR department to identify key milestones in the employee lifecycle. Identify what needs to be done to incorporate sustainability throughout their time at the organization:
    • Recruitment, onboarding, job descriptions, performance development, recognition
  • Add sustainability into the company’s existing rewards and recognition system, if possible before the sustainability program launches
  • Look for other opportunities to build sustainability into all aspects of the company’s business, systems, and processes

Take a look at the Sustainability Integration Pathway below to take a look at internal and external leverage points for your company:

Graphic from: Corostranberg

Getting Your Passengers Onto the Bus

A great way to assess whether or not your employees are engaged with potential sustainability programs is segmenting them into groups. This can include engagement levels, geography, hierarchical levels, responses from surveys, and focus groups. Once you’ve collected data from the employees of your organization, you can funnel them into the following categories: 

From Anthony Leisowit

You can get even more of your employees on board with the multiplier effect. Meaning you can get more of your colleagues on board with a bit of elbow grease. This could include education and then asking newly educated employees to join the team, branding, communications, and training. Plus, you can enroll other groups in your organization such as health and safety, wellness, volunteers, etc.

With some more direction on how to build a green team in your own organization, we’re excited to hear about the newly-formulated green teams you’ve created. Want to learn even more about sustainability in the workplace? Be sure to take a look at our blog for our other Webinar Wednesday recaps to learn more! Plus, you can keep an eye on our events page to be the first to know about upcoming Webinar Wednesdays.