Event report  •  Conference & Seminar

Net Zero Leadership Programme: Your employees and customers care

At this in-person session of our programme, members learnt about how companies can solve challenges by engaging with their employees on sustainability

We were delighted to welcome Aneta Jajkowska of Dassault Systèmes and Delphine Mazillier of Decathlon for a comprehensive discussion moderated by Jane Mossman of BetterFutures+.

Missed it? Read on for our summary of the key takeaways.

Employees care about sustainability

Especially among younger generations, people are increasingly taking companies’ record on sustainability into account when looking for a new job. More broadly, they are looking for companies with a purpose. 82% of employees believe that it is important for businesses to have a purpose – and 72% believe that this should receive more weight than profit.

They will notice unsustainable practices and challenge them – so companies can no longer afford to make excuses.

Making sustainability part of company DNA

Sustainability needs to be integrated into all company operations rather than considered as something separate. Setting up a specific department or team relating to sustainability fails to consider the issue holistically. Instead, a cohesive language needs to emerge, underpinning a company’s central mission and making sustainability an easier topic to recognise.

Setting key targets is important. Where does the company want to be in ten years? How will progress be measured?

Many areas tend to be missed when considering companies’ carbon footprints – including where pensions are invested for instance. Indeed, several master trusts invest their funds in arms and fossil fuels, yet this is not widely known.

Raising awareness among employees

Conversations about sustainability often start with compliance: making sure employees understand company commitments.  Policies need to be reviewed to make sure they align with sustainability strategies; an example of this might be prioritising electric vehicles in the car policy or changing to mobility policy all together. Given younger generations’ tendency to scrutinise these issues in greater detail, policies need to be watertight.

Just introducing language around sustainability can be the first step to change. No company is perfect, but successful ones can become examples to inspire wider industrial change.

Involving employees in creating and organising initiatives will help to embrace and integrate into the company culture.


Step-by-step progress

Employees may not necessarily like abrupt changes to company culture – so introducing pilot schemes can be an ideal way of bringing about long-term change on sustainability. Small successful projects can build up energy and help to create enthusiasm for carrying ideas on and developing new ones. Leaders need to follow up on this energy and develop new initiatives accordingly, building upon each little success.

Engaging with suppliers and partners

A successful sustainability strategy needs to take account of scope 3 emissions, which tend to make up the vast majority of business carbon footprints. If sustainability truly is embedded within company DNA, suppliers need to be on board. Including suppliers in educational training on carbon reduction is one way of achieving this.

Leaders can also try to use their power to influence other companies. Refusing partnerships with companies that are weak on sustainability may mean a loss of potential business, but may also force those companies to think about and change their approach.






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