Why Environmental Sustainability Should Be a Priority in Your Organization

CoachHub · 6 September 2022 · 4 min read

Millennials and Gen Z are more determined than ever to work for a company whose beliefs align with theirs. Organizations are putting significant time and energy into values-based initiatives that may range far afield from their core business (like environmental sustainability). These two generations are poised to become the bulk of the workforce, and they’re the most job-hopping yet. Just shy of 25% plan to change jobs within the next six months, according to LinkedIn’s Workforce Confidence Index

Why are they so antsy? While past generations may have prioritized compensation or long-term job stability, the LinkedIn Index notes that 59% of Millennials interested in moving on are looking for better alignment with their interests or values. A whopping 80% of Gen Z wants the same. It’s No. 1 on the list for both. Given the war for talent and the cost of training new employees, companies that ignore one of the key reasons people are attracted to, and stay with, a company do so at their peril. 

There is also the matter of investors. The environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria that socially-conscious investors use to assess companies gained significant influence. A McKinsey and Company Global Survey found that more than half of executives and investors think ESG programs create shareholder value. Almost all see long-term value in environmental sustainability initiatives. Furthermore, investors say they would pay a premium for companies with positive ESG records—some more than 50%. 

When investors put environmental sustainability issues under the microscope, they may look into a company’s energy use, climate policies or compliance with environmental regulations. They may focus on industry-specific concerns such as its treatment of animals, contribution to air and water pollution, or management of toxic waste. Companies that need investors to help fund their growth ambitions must pay attention.

The Rise of ESG

What is environmental sustainability? One might argue that it is in the eye of the beholder given the breadth of the United Nations definition: “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Most companies, however, look to the aforementioned environmental sustainability criteria for guidance. Climate Impact Partners found that 38% of the Fortune Global 500 have “delivered a significant climate milestone or are publicly committed to do so by 2030.” That’s an increase of 8 percentage points year over year. Carbon neutrality and science-based targets are popular areas of focus. 

ESG initiatives have certainly gained momentum, but environmental sustainability remains an incredibly complex topic whose definitions and targets are far from settled. Suffice it to say that it is top of mind for companies of every size, not just multinational corporations. And there’s definitely room for improvement in the court of public opinion. A Pew Research Center study found that 62% of Americans say companies aren’t adequately addressing climate change. For the optimistic among us, that means there’s a big opportunity for organizations to set themselves apart from their competitors by putting solid programs in place and making sure their employees, investors and customers know about their efforts.

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Environmental Sustainability: The Balance Between Being and Doing

Companies often want to do the right thing, but few can point to environmental sustainability as their core business. Climate change isn’t an area of expertise, nor is it simple for those willing to dive in. Companies may hesitate to tackle it because they don’t know where to start. If they do have some idea of where to start, they may be reluctant to move forward because they think they lack the people, processes or skillsets to get it done. Or, a company’s environmental sustainability strategy concerns may deem the investment too steep or detrimental to the company’s growth and profitability. 

But what if sustainability was thought of as a balance between “being” and “doing”? In fact, one could argue that without the former, the latter simply won’t happen in a (ahem) sustainable way. “Being” is about building a culture that embraces environmental sustainability. “Doing” is about executing sustainability initiatives and keeping them in motion long term. Laying that cultural foundation first, then strengthening and nurturing it over time, builds an organization that has environmental sustainability in its DNA—not one that simply goes through the motions to align with the corporate/investor zeitgeist. Companies with environmental sustainability as a core value hire differently. They think about their business and processes in new ways. They invest purposefully and make decisions in a more holistic way.

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Coaching for Successful Environmental Sustainability Initiatives

A company may adopt a complex cap-and-trade solution to reduce their carbon footprint. They may embrace remote work policies to reduce commute-related carbon emissions. They may try to influence suppliers to use more eco-friendly sourcing, packaging or shipping. All involve change management if they are to be successful. 

Although the word “transformation” is often used to describe complex, multifaceted changes, it pertains to smaller shifts as well. For companies embarking on environmental sustainability initiatives, there will always be an element of transformation at play. Those that are most successful embed what is called “change agility” into their cultures—the ability to identify changes that need to be made and the capability to do something about it, repeatedly. One way to do that is through coaching.

Transformation needn’t be fixed in time. Instead, think of it as a mindset. We’ve found that individualized coaching helps people incorporate new values, ways of working and ways of thinking, all of which can move companies toward greater environmental sustainability. Taking a long-term, individualized approach to coaching makes change possible by helping employees, managers and leaders understand the psychology behind successful transformation. It also gives them the skills they need to drive organizational change forward with grace and confidence. With employees and investors alike making high-impact decisions based on a company’s  environmental sustainability track record, coaching is a solid investment for the organization—and the planet. 

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CoachHub is the leading global talent development platform that enables organisations to create a personalised, measurable and scalable coaching programme for the entire workforce, regardless of department and seniority level. By doing so, organisations are able to reap a multitude of benefits, including increased employee engagement, higher levels of productivity, improved job performance and increased retention. CoachHub’s global pool of coaches is comprised of over 3,500 certified business coaches in 90 countries across six continents with coaching sessions available in over 60 languages, to serve more than 500 clients. Our programmes are based on advanced R&D from our Coaching Lab, led by Prof. Jonathan Passmore and our Science Council. CoachHub is backed by leading tech investors, including Sofina, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Molten Ventures, Speedinvest, HV Capital, Partech and Silicon Valley Bank/SVB Capital. In September 2021, CoachHub acquired French digital coaching pioneer MoovOne to build a global champion focused on jointly democratising coaching.
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