NetZero: Let’s get started!

Some simple first steps for engaging your employees in NetZero and creating a NetZero culture.

If you are just starting your NetZero journey…:

You may already know the difference between Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions*. But it’s highly unlikely that your employees do. In fact, the language of climate change and net zero, with its acronyms, its talk of adaptation (or is it mitigation?), and its science-based targets, can be distancing and disengaging to many people.

* If you don’t, here‘s a handy guide from Deloitte!

But the chances that your employees think or even worry about climate change are far higher (for example, see recent research led by Bath University). What does climate change mean for them, their children or grandchildren? Will sea level rise affect their city, or their favourite holiday destination? Will severe weather patterns affect their homes or jobs?

So the first step on the NetZero journey in your business or workplace is simply to start an open and honest conversation.

climate change demonstration
Photo by Markus Spiske
Photo by Nathan Dumlao

Here’s how you can do this:

  1. Write an article or record a short video for your employees, sharing your thoughts about climate change, and why climate action is important to you. Don’t try to sound like an expert (unless you are an expert!). The more honest you are, the better – what you know and don’t know, and how you feel about the challenges ahead (Inspired to change? Excited? Anxious? Frustrated by lack of progress? Confused?…). Sharing your own personal reflections sets the tone.
  2. Set up discussion forums for employees to share their own thoughts. Introduce this with a short video: Sir David Attenborough’s speech at COP26 is an engaging, if sobering, summary of the challenges we face.
  3. Ask them to think about something or someone they truly value, enjoy or cherish*. Then ask them to think about how climate change will impact this. The concept of climate change can feel distant and nebulous. This approach makes it personal. It energises the discussion and starts to build connection and shared momentum for change.

*Thanks to my friend Emmanuel for suggesting this powerful, personal approach.

Making your first climate conversation about them rather than about your company gives you a better chance of bringing employees along with you on your company’s own NetZero journey.

If your company has already started its NetZero journey…:

You are analysing your products, processes and supply chains looking for ways to make them more climate friendly. You are balancing opportunities for action against risks of inaction.

Climate change may well mean big change for your company.

This change journey should involve your employees at every step of the way.

The journey will be smoother and quicker for you if you do!

Research into organisational change is clear: when employees are given a sense of ownership and personal responsibility, they are far more likely to support changes that affect them. Sadly though, many change programmes leave employees feeling ‘done to’ rather than ‘part of’. As a result they are less motivated to act differently and can become resistant to the change.

So here’s how to ensure employee engagement is a pillar in your NetZero strategy, rather than an afterthought.

Lets get started! Meeting over wooden table. Employees writing in notebooks.

Employee engagement ideas:

  1. Plan a company conversation about climate change and NetZero. No hidden agenda. It’s simply to get people talking. In the week before launching this conversation, create a buzz by sharing ‘nuggets’ of information about the reality and impact of climate change (via screensavers, posters, deskdrops etc.). Two sources to get you started with this are, and the BBC.
  2. Meet with Heads of Department to plan how to start NetZero conversations with their teams. The aim here is to discuss how climate change affects their teams’ work – whether they’re in finance, legal, production or HR. Ask Heads to take the lead. Find out what resources or support they need. Create a shared goal – e.g. all employees to have been part of one NetZero discussion in the next three months.
  3. Run a survey of employee attitudes towards climate change, asking for suggestions on what the company can do to respond. To encourage employees to participate in the survey, commit to making their feedback part of your NetZero strategy.

Contact us here for an initial discussion on how we can help set up NetZero conversations in your workplace. Click here for more information about our NetZero Culture assessment. Or leave a comment below.

Hummingbirds representing Sustainability SMEs swarming at COP26!
Photo by Laura Gelder-Robertson: