The Green Agenda Challenge Belongs to Us All

The use of smart digital technologies in the workforce is becoming increasingly pervasive as employees look to log on from any device, anywhere. This newfound mobility is significantly changing the way we all work. But there is another critical trend that we must not ignore – delivering on the green agenda.

The green agenda is no longer just for the boardroom. Over the next decade, everyone in the organization, whichever department they work in, will need to have sustainability and climate change issues instigated into their formal training programs so they can make a proactive contribution to carbon reduction and play key roles in a sustainable future.

Engaging employees to create a sustainable business can be a real market differentiator. In the current skills drought, it can also help to attract talent to a company. Many people today are looking to join organizations that are passionately pursuing sustainable initiatives to protect the planet and our societies.

Green action is important for recruitment success

The climate crisis is already taking a toll on mental health. Recent research from the BBC found that younger workers have higher “eco-anxiety” than those who joined the workforce before them.

The fear is very real. A recent UN analysis revealed a bleak upward curve for global carbon dioxide emissions, despite new CO2-cutting plans by many countries. Global emissions are expected to rise 16 percent by 2030, up from 2010 levels under governments’ plans forwarded since the beginning of 2020, according to the UN report.

On a more positive note, many organizations are stepping up their green activities. The big challenge is to bring each employee along on this important journey so that everyone can make a difference, however small. This may be down to materials being purchased, for example, to sourcing components in supply chains.

How to approach a green learning and development program

There is an effective framework for building a strategic roadmap that we developed for our own internal use, which is now being adopted by several companies putting together learning and development (L&D) programs. I have dubbed it “1h/10h/100h”.

It is created on the premise that, initially, everyone in the company will need at least one hour of green training to build awareness. This needs to be revisited for new recruits and employees possibly on an annual basis. This is designed to build a sustainable culture over time.

Upskilling will also be an important part of the program. Here, we would expect a whole range of people across the organization to spend at least 10 hours learning new “green” skills in their existing roles. This includes green regulations for finance, for example, and how to avoid greenwashing for marketing departments.

Others will require reskilling for new roles. This could be achieved via workshops or boot camps. For roles in high demand, 100 hours of training may be adequate.

A strategic move to green

As well as putting in place L&D programs, companies will also need to plan and manage a move to greener systems–covering people, processes, and technologies. Including mitigating risks such as changing safety profiles.

It is all about baby steps, but it adds up to a big L&D timetable over the coming years. And don’t forget that the climate crisis isn’t going away. It will continue to have an impact on the workplace. This includes reviewing air pollution and office temperatures, for example.

On another strategic note, we will see business and marketing models flipped on their backs as the “ethics” of promoting continuous consumption in terms of air transportation, for example, clashes with green agendas. This will trigger a new approach to products and services and the way they impact the bottom line. This will again require retraining as teams reassess their skills and business goals.

With governments across the globe moving towards requiring great sustainability from businesses and enforcing these requirements through tough regulations, it would be short-sighted not to spotlight the issue now.

With the growing threat of climate change and other environmental threats, we are all getting much more conscious of what we are doing to our planet. Demonstrable environmental sustainability will soon be non-negotiable for any business. Embracing sustainability at the business level is not an easy task. But now is the time to think ahead by prioritizing the green agenda in training.

Antoine Poincaré
Antoine Poincaré

Antoine Poincaré is Vice President of Climate School, the e-learning arm of sustainable insurance company AXA Climate