Net Zero from the Inside

What does a Net Zero organisational culture really look like? Part One

Purpose is at the centre

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Culture matters!

Culture has far too strong an influence on organisational behaviour to be ignored by any business that takes its response to climate change seriously. The evidence is clear. IMD points to a lack of focus on culture change as a primary reason why organisational change programmes fail to deliver the intended benefits. McKinsey’s research found that 70 percent of change programmes fail, and 70 percent of those failures are due to culture-related issues.

A Safety Culture helps to ensure a company’s employees return home safely each day. An Innovation Culture helps to keep a company’s R&D ahead of its competitors. My research and experience tells me that there’s such a thing as a Net Zero Culture too. What this looks like will vary from business to business and sector to sector, but there are some common features.

Purpose at the heart of a Net Zero culture

It’s perhaps no huge surprise that organisational purpose is at the heart of a Net Zero Culture. This purpose is inspired by a vision to build a Net Zero world, and to leave a positive legacy for people and planet. 

More and more senior leaders now speak openly about how the forces of climate change and the global drive towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions are radically reshaping their businesses.

Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower, has said: “Every decision we make is through the prism of net zero 2050. That is our purpose in life.” 

It’s happening in manufacturing, mining and media. In ‘big beasts’ such as ScottishPower and in countless small and medium size companies at the heart of our communities. Companies are reassessing their core purpose. Some simply need to re-affirm it. Others need to bring their core purpose to the surface for the first time. Then they need to give it a full Net Zero makeover!

Speaking at the UN, Sir David Attenborough called climate change the “biggest threat modern humans have ever faced”. Mark Carney called climate change “the greatest commercial opportunity of our time.” But without a Purpose for Planet and People at the heart of their culture, companies will struggle to sustain the change needed for them to adapt to, and contribute to, a Net Zero world. 

Look out for more blogs about the key features of a Net Zero Culture, or see how Purpose fits into our Net Zero Culture Map here.

Photo by Louis Maniquet