A few weeks ago Newsweek released its green rankings of the top 500 largest American companies, based on environmental performance, policies and reputation. Everyone loves these types of rankings and the report garnered a ton of attention–isn’t it satisfying to learn which companies are truly carbon sinners and which are saints?
Carbon is arguably becoming the international currency for sustainability, and companies are putting out strategies to reduce their carbon emissions left and right. But it is often unclear how individual employees can play a meaningful role in the quest for carbon-lite. A Deloitte study cites a poll that found 94% of people surveyed switched off lights and 85% switched off PCs at home, but only 66% and 53% respectively took these simple actions at work.
While it is important for companies to discover top-down operational changes and innovations to reduce carbon, they also need to remember people-power. Engaging employees at a personal level is a way to activate your sustainability initiatives from the bottom up. Once individual employees are self-selecting video conferencing rather than airline flights, actively remembering to turn off computers and lights at night, and thinking about little ways to tweak their workplace processes to save energy and money, companies are going to see positive impacts on their carbon output and their bottom line. There are a few principles to keep in mind:
♣ Make it personal: Explain and quantify how every individual’s contribution matters to the company, to the bottom line and to their jobs.
♣ Make it actionable: Offer people concrete, specific ways to immediately contribute to reducing the company’s carbon footprint, but encourage them to brainstorm their own creative ways of making a change. You might be surprised with what they come up with.
♣ Make it impactful: People tune out when they think their action doesn’t matter in the large scheme of things. So show your employees that their actions matter by celebrating the individual achievements on a regular basis.
This week at Saatchi S we launched a new enterprise, web-based platform for companies to activate sustainability practices among employees. It’s an easy-to-use tool that any employee can use to chart their individual and collective progress on all kinds of personal sustainability practices, such as reducing water bottles, eating organic, composting or losing weight. We see this software as a way to bring our PSP (Personal Sustainability Practice) model to scale, allowing employees at any level or tenure to play a part in a company’s broader social and environmental efforts through a flexible platform. Here is an example of an interface.
HP has also released a fun widget for making carbon reduction personal, actionable and impactful –it’s called Power to Change. It’s a free, downloadable widget that reminds you to turn off your computer and then tells you on a daily basis how much carbon you are saving. (By the way, HP ranked #1 on Newsweek’s green list and has an estimated 1.67 million metric tons of emissions).
I’d like to see a version of this widget that tells me how much carbon I’m saving relative to my co-workers. Then I can make sure I’m not the carbon sinner around here.
-Kelly Petrich, Outreach Strategist, Saatchi & Saatchi S
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