Sometimes climate action within a business is led top-down with senior leaders promoting the shift, other times it is grassroots and led by passionate employees – often it’s a combination of the two.
Climate change is an important issue to most New Zealanders. Giving your team the opportunity to make an impact through their work is a great way to increase engagement and retention.
Bring everyone on the journey
By getting the wider business on board with your emissions targets, you can increase momentum and build a culture of sustainability. It’s your team who will put your plan into action and help you reach your business goals.
In a smaller business, everyone can get involved. In a larger business, a ‘green team’ can support those with dedicated sustainability roles to motivate the wider workforce.
Promote a culture of sustainability
Make sure everyone across the business is aware of your carbon footprint, and what needs to be done to reduce it.
Educating and motivating staff about energy efficiency is proven to help businesses save energy and emissions for relatively low cost.
Many energy-saving actions are reliant on staff behaviour. For example, by driving more efficiently you can save up to 20% on fuel and emissions.1 And in the office, energy saving can be as simple as turning off the lights.
Research shows that more than 70% of New Zealanders are prepared to change their own personal behaviour in order to reduce climate change. EECA Consumer Monitor, September 2022(external link)
Reduce emissions by working smarter
Being climate-friendly is good for staff retention. A lot of younger staff are interested to hear what you're doing to improve sustainability and reduce carbon emissions, and they want to work with a company that thinks those things are important.
Empower your sustainability leaders
There are various ways you can structure your sustainability team, depending on the size of your business and the resource you have available.
Many businesses have seen great results spearheaded by a ‘green team’ – a core group of people from across the business who push emissions reduction projects outside of their core roles.
Larger businesses may have a dedicated sustainability manager with responsibly for driving emissions reduction initiatives.
A 2022 report on New Zealand’s sustainability profession revealed that Kiwi businesses are increasingly embedding sustainability responsibilities into a range of roles across their organisations. And 72% used external consultants to support their sustainability activities.2
Whatever approach you take, it’s important to recognise that culture change and big projects affect people in a range of roles who will need to be involved and consulted.
It’s critical that your sustainability team has senior leadership support, and appropriate resource to put your emissions reduction plan into action.
Over the past few years, the sustainability team at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare has fostered a Green Team of sustainability champions embedded throughout the organisation – a simple set-up that many businesses could adopt to drive change.
2 Research by Sustainable Business Network, Sustainable Business Council, AUT and Oxygen Consulting: Insights on New Zealand Sustainability Professionals 2022 [PDF, 2.5MB](external link)
If you are looking to establish sustainability roles within your business, the 2020 report is also worth a read: Insights on New Zealand Sustainability Professionals 2020 [PDF 6.8MB](external link)